LONDON, ENGLAND — Rolls-Royce has successfully conducted initial tests of its groundbreaking UltraFan technology demonstrator at its Derby site in the UK, operating the engine on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Yet, Rolls-Royce has not publicly released specific details about the tests, including their timeframe, duration, or the engine's achieved power level.

Rolls-Royce CEO Tufan Erginbilgic calls the UltraFan demonstrator a "game changer," asserting that the technologies being evaluated in this program have the potential to enhance both current and future engine models.

The UltraFan features an array of cutting-edge technologies, such as carbon-titanium fan blades, the Advance3 core, a novel combustor, and a vital high-power gearbox. These improvements should provide a 10% fuel-burn reduction compared to the manufacturer's latest engine, the Trent XWB, or a 25% reduction over earlier Trent models.

Rolls-Royce envisions the application of technologies refined through the UltraFan program to its existing Trent line of widebody engines, potentially enhancing their performance and dependability.

In the long term, the company perceives the "scalable" architecture – suitable for 25,000-100,000lb (111-444kN) thrust range – as appropriate for future single- or twin-aisle applications projected to appear in the 2030s.

The evaluations were executed at the company's new Testbed 80 facility in Derby and powered by SAF made from waste-based feedstocks, supplied by Air BP.

The test engine, equipped with a 140-inch (355 cm) diameter fan, features a 14:1 bypass ratio and is designed to generate 80,000lb of thrust.

The development of the UltraFan has been financed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Innovate UK, the EU’s Clean Sky programs, Germany’s LuFo federal aviation research program, and the State of Brandenburg.

Gary Elliott, ATI's CEO, claims that the UltraFan "positions the UK at the vanguard of the global market and is absolutely vital for the future of the UK aircraft engine industry."

Rolls-Royce intends to further refine the new architecture through a project backed by the EU’s Clean Aviation organization and led by the manufacturer's German division.

The venture, known as HEAVEN, plans to significantly evolve the engine into "UltraFan H2," which will be capable of operating on hydrogen or SAF and employ hybrid-electric technology to "reduce wasted energy," as per Clean Aviation's project outline.

The project will also incorporate numerous innovative enabling technologies that are currently at a technology readiness level 3, aiming to improve gas turbine efficiency.

By the conclusion of the project in December 2026, the UltraFan H2 design should reach readiness level 6, supporting a potential service entry around 2035.