Rolls-Royce Makes Aviation History with Successful UltraFan Technology Tests on Sustainable Fuel

Rolls-Royce Makes Aviation History with Successful UltraFan Technology Tests on Sustainable Fuel

(IN BRIEF) Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first tests of its UltraFan technology demonstrator in Derby, UK. The tests were conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), marking a significant milestone for the company. The UltraFan technology offers a 10% improvement in efficiency over existing engines and has the potential to power future aircraft. The tests were conducted in collaboration with government organizations and supported by sustainable initiatives. Rolls-Royce’s UltraFan demonstrates their commitment to innovation and sustainability in the aviation industry.

(PRESS RELEASE) LONDON, 18-May-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR., ADR:RYCEY), the pre-eminent engineering company with focus on world-class power and propulsion systems, announces the successful completion of the first tests of its UltraFan technology demonstrator at its facility in Derby. Notably, these tests were conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), marking a significant milestone for the aero-engine manufacturer.

This achievement demonstrates the fruitful collaboration between industry and governments, highlighting what can be accomplished when working together. It also confirms the effectiveness of the suite of technologies incorporated in the demonstrator, a major step towards enhancing the efficiency of current and future aero-engines. UltraFan, known for its exceptional performance, offers a remarkable 10% improvement in efficiency over the already highly efficient Trent XWB, currently the world’s most efficient large aero engine in service.

In the short term, there is the potential to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development program to existing Trent engines, providing customers with enhanced availability, reliability, and efficiency. Looking ahead, the scalable technology of UltraFan, ranging from approximately 25,000 to 110,000lb thrust, presents an exciting prospect to power new narrowbody and widebody aircraft expected to emerge in the 2030s.

Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO, Rolls-Royce plc, said:

“The UltraFan demonstrator is a game changer – the technologies we are testing as part of this programme have the capability to improve the engines of today as well as the engines of tomorrow. That is why this announcement is so important – we are witnessing history in the making; a step-change in engine efficiency improvement. When combined with Sustainable Aviation Fuels, more efficient gas turbine engines will be key to hitting the industry’s target of Net Zero flight by 2050. Today we are closer to achieving this ambition.

“Collaboration is key in driving the decarbonisation of air travel and the UltraFan programme is a great example of what can be achieved when government and industry come together with a common purpose.”

The groundbreaking tests were conducted at Testbed 80, the world’s largest and most advanced indoor aero-engine testing facility. The 100% SAF used, derived primarily from sustainable feedstocks like used cooking oils, was provided by Air bp.

The successful testing of the UltraFan demonstrator is the culmination of years of hard work, supported by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Innovate UK, the EU’s Clean Sky programs, LuFo, and the State of Brandenburg in Germany.

UK Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said:

“This cutting-edge technology will help the transition towards a greener future for aviation while attracting further investment into the UK’s aerospace industry, helping grow the economy.

“I’m proud that the Government has backed this initiative through our Aerospace Technology Institute programme, and we will continue to work with manufacturers like Rolls-Royce as we seek to grow the UK’s share of the global aerospace market.”

Gary Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Technology Institute, said:

“Rolls-Royce’s UltraFan programme has achieved a huge step forward in terms of the fuel efficiency of aircraft engines. The technology developed within the programme has greatly improved our understanding of how to increase engine performance while reducing environmental impact.

“It is a programme that puts the UK at the forefront of the global market, and is absolutely critical for the future of the UK aircraft engine industry. Our congratulations to the Rolls-Royce team for the successful tests of this exciting technology demonstrator.”

Axel Krein, Executive Director of Clean Aviation, added:

“Congratulations to the talented team for reaching this significant milestone in shaping aviation’s net-zero sustainable future. The UltraFan® technology demonstrator, a flagship project of the Clean Sky 2 programme, showcases the power of innovation and collaboration in driving our journey forwards. This architecture will be further developed through Clean Aviation’s HEAVEN project.”

The UltraFan, a design architecture different from Rolls-Royce’s current Civil large engines, features a geared design that sets it apart from other industry players. This flexibility in scaling down the technology as required by customers positions Rolls-Royce uniquely, enabling them to offer a portfolio of two-shaft, three-shaft, direct drive, and geared propulsion solutions to power future aircraft.

Key engineering features of the UltraFan technology demonstrator include a new Advance3 core architecture, incorporating the ALECSys lean burn combustion system for optimal fuel burn efficiency and low emissions. Additionally, the demonstrator utilizes carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing. The geared design ensures efficient power delivery for high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines, establishing a new aerospace record with the power gearbox running at 64MW.

The success of the UltraFan technology demonstrator underscores Rolls-Royce’s commitment to innovation and sustainability, propelling the aviation industry towards a greener future.

Imagery is available for download from:

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc
  1. Rolls-Royce develops and delivers complex power and propulsion solutions for safety-critical applications in the air, at sea and on land. Our products and service packages enable our customers to connect people, societies, cultures and economies together; they meet the growing need for power generation across multiple industries; and enable governments to equip their armed forces with the power required to protect their citizens.
  2. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces and navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers. We are committed to making our products compatible with net zero carbon emissions to meet customer demand for more sustainable solutions.
  3. The annual underlying revenue was £12.69 billion in 2022, and the underlying operating profit was £652m.
  4. Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a publicly traded company (LSE: RR., ADR: RYCEY, LEI: 213800EC7997ZBLZJH69)

Media contact:

Richard Wray
Director of External Communications

SOURCE: Rolls-Royce plc


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