Swiss intl airlines to be world’s first to use ‘sun-to-liquid’ fuel

Highlights :

  • Swiss International Air Lines and its parent Lufthansa Group have agreed with synthetic fuel group Synhelion to use its solar aviation fuel.
  • The process devised by Synhelion, a spinoff from the Swiss Institute of Technology, uses concentrated sunlight to produce carbon-neutral kerosene.

Swiss International Air Lines and its parent Lufthansa Group have agreed with synthetic fuel group Synhelion to use its solar aviation fuel, the Swiss airline said on Tuesday.

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“This will make SWISS the first airline in the world to use ‘sun-to-liquid’ fuel,” it said in a statement.

The process devised by Synhelion, a spinoff from the Swiss Institute of Technology, uses concentrated sunlight to produce carbon-neutral kerosene, it said.

To elaborate, the unique procedure uses concentrated solar heat to manufacture syngas which can then be synthesized into kerosene using standard industrial processes. This sun-to-liquid fuel closes the fuel carbon cycle: when combusted, it will only produce as much CO2 as went into its manufacture, claims the manufacturer. The new fuel aims to make a contribution towards effectively decarbonizing air transport.

“Our next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels,” Synhelion co-founder and CEO Philipp Furler said. “The commitment of SWISS and the Lufthansa Group underlines the aviation sector’s keen interest in our solar fuel.”

Synhelion will build the world’s first facility for the industrial production of solar fuel in Germany this year, according to the statement. Synhelion, SWISS, Edelweiss and the Lufthansa Group have been working together on the new technology since 2020.

“This is why we are actively supporting the development of solar fuels,” stressed SWISS CEO Vranckx. “We want to be a pioneer in their use. So our involvement with Synhelion is a key element in our long-term sustainability strategy.”

The deal calls for SWISS and the Lufthansa Group to support development of Synhelion’s planned commercial fuel production facility in Spain as well.

“We believe in a globalized world connected by climate-friendly mobility,” added Dr. Philipp Furler, Synhelion’s co-founder and CEO. “Our next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels…And we are looking forward already to the day the first SWISS aircraft takes off with our solar kerosene.”

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