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Rolls-Royce joins push for sustainable aviation fuel

British company Rolls-Royce, which makes engines for the aviation sector, has announced that it will partner with Shell to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as part of their shared ambition to become net-zero carbon businesses by 2050.

SAF is produced from sustainable sources, such as woody biomass, municipal waste, and cooking oil, and it has the potential to reduce lifecycle emissions by 70% when compared to conventional aviation fuel. It is seen as the only feasible way to reduce the carbon footprint of this sector in the short-to-medium term before electric- or hydrogen-powered aircraft become available.

With existing engines, SAF needs to be blended with conventional jet fuel, which reduces the drop in carbon emissions. As part of its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shell, Rolls-Royce will aim to ensure that all its commercial engines are suitable for running on 100% SAF.

In a statement, Paul Stein, the chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce, said that the companies were committed to decarbonising the aviation industry:

“We believe that working together on these aims can deliver benefits for both the development of new innovations as well as collaborating to find ways to unlock the net carbon emissions reduction potential of technology that is already in use today.”

Shell, which operates in a number of areas including lubricant manufacturing, has previously said that stronger demand signals are needed before it can invest in greater SAF production capacity. The ability to use 100% SAF in many aircraft should certainly help.

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