Findings from the Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels (ECLIF) study—to involve tests on the ground and in the air using an Airbus A350-900 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines—will support sustainability efforts already underway at Airbus and Rolls-Royce. Fuel-clearance engine tests, including a first flight to check operational compatibility of using 100 percent SAF with the aircraft’s systems, started at Airbus’s facilities in Toulouse, France, this week. Plans call for flight-emissions tests to start in April and resume in the autumn, using DLR’s Falcon 20E “chase plane” to measure the emissions impact of using SAF. Meanwhile, further ground tests measuring particulate-matter emissions will gauge the environmental effects of SAF use on airport operations.
Both the flight and the ground tests will compare emissions from the use of 100 percent SAF produced with HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) technology against those from fossil kerosene and low-sulfur fossil kerosene.
According to DLR’s ECLIF project manager, Patrick Le Clercq, previous research campaigns have demonstrated a soot-reduction potential of between 30 and 50 percent. The partners hope this study shows an even greater potential. “By investigating 100 percent SAF, we are taking our research on fuel design and aviation climate impact to a new level,” he said. “DLR has already conducted extensive research on analytics and modeling as well as performing ground and flight tests using alternative fuels with the Airbus A320 ATRA research aircraft in 2015 and in 2018 together with NASA.”