Swiss airline will be the first in the world to use solar fuel

By : Dr. Franyi Sarmiento, Ph.D., Inspenet, April 7, 2022

Sunlight may be the path to carbon-neutral flights thanks to “sun-to-liquid”, a process created by the company Synhelion that makes sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from sunlight. Swiss will be the first airline to benefit from this procedure and solar kerosene from next year thanks to the collaboration between the Swiss company, Lufthansa and Synhelion.

This one-of-a-kind process uses concentrated solar heat to make syngas, which can be synthesized into kerosene using standard industrial processes. In this way, when the fuel turned into a liquid by the sun is burned, it produces only the amount of CO2 necessary for its manufacture. As reported by the company, this new fuel contributes greatly to the effective decarbonization of air transport.

Apart from being the first airline to use this solar fuel, SWISS and the Lufthansa Group will collaborate with Synhelion in the development of Synhelion’s planned commercial fuel production facility in Spain, where it has a solar tower at the IMDEA Energy Institute. from Madrid. Likewise, this year it will build the first facility in the world for the industrial production of solar fuel in Jülich (Germany).

“We are proud that Swiss is the first airline in the world to fly with solar kerosene. By partnering with Synhelion, we support Swiss innovation and actively pursue and promote the development, market introduction and scaling up of this very promising technology for producing sustainable fuels,” Swiss CEO Dieter Vranckx explains in a statement from press.

Apart from being carbon neutral and using renewable sources, this technique makes it possible to produce fuels that are functionally comparable to those already used by aircraft. This means that the company can easily replace its fossil kerosene with this solar equivalent without major modifications. According to reports from Synhelion, this solar kerosene “is an economical and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels.”

The collaboration between the companies, which began in 2020, is part of the commitment of the Lufthansa Group and Swiss to minimize their carbon dioxide emissions, with which they expect to be able to use solar kerosene in half of their fleet by 2030. In fact, Swiss is expected to significantly increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels in the coming years to help achieve its climate goals. To do this, they have decided to “actively support the development of solar fuels”, explains Vranckx, CEO of Swiss, to which he adds: “We want to be pioneers in their use. So our participation in Synhelion is a key element in our long-term sustainability strategy.”

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