A revolutionary small aircraft engine is currently being tested at the Salisbury Plain.
It is a Rolls-Royce AE-2100A gas turbine which will run on hydrogen.
The tests are being carried out by Rolls-Royce, in partnership with the airline EasyJet.
This technology will enable the aviation industry to massively grow while cutting climate change emissions substantially.
“The reason we’re looking at hydrogen is really the drive for Net Zero,” explains Alan Newby, director of aerospace technology at Rolls-Royce.
“Normally we would run this thing on kerosene. Kerosene is a hydrocarbon and therefore produces carbon dioxide when it burns.
“The beauty of looking at a fuel like a hydrogen is that it doesn’t contain any carbon and, therefore, when it burns it produces no CO2”.
“We started a few years ago looking at what might power the aircraft of the future,” explains David Morgan, easyJet’s chief operating officer.
“We looked at battery technology, and it was quite clear that the battery technology was probably not going to do it for the large commercial aircraft that we fly.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that hydrogen is a very exciting proposition for us.”
The advantage of hydrogen over batteries is that it provides much more power per kilogram and it is way less heavy than batteries.
However, it is a long way till hydrogen fuel replaces batteries. The tests are at the initial stages.
The aircraft themselves will also need to be redesigned for hydrogen to be sued as a fuel.
“A lot of people are saying ‘we can use hydrogen, we need hydrogen’. You hear it for cars, trucks, ships, planes, home heating, for chemicals.
“At the moment the UK effectively produces zero green hydrogens. To fulfill all the needs everyone wants is absolutely impossible.”
Mr Finch believes this means supplies of green hydrogen will probably have to be rationed for decades to come, and he says aviation may not be a priority for governments.
These first tests on Salisbury Plain may serve as pioneer steps toward the revolution of the aviation industry.