Swiss International Airlines (SWISS) to be the world’s first airline to use Synhelion solar fuel

SWISS and the Lufthansa Group have entered a strategic collaboration with Synhelion to bring its solar aviation fuel to market, making SWISS the first airline in the world to use ‘sun-to-liquid’ fuel, a form of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that uses concentrated sunlight to produce carbon-neutral kerosene.
Swiss International Airlines (SWISS) to be the world’s first airline to use Synhelion solar fuel
Courtesy of Swiss International Airlines (SWISS).

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and the Lufthansa Group have concluded a strategic collaboration with ETH Zurich spinoff Synhelion to bring solar aviation fuel to market. This will make SWISS the first airline in the world to use solar kerosene.

Synhelion has developed technology for manufacturing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from renewable energy sources. The process uses concentrated solar heat to manufacture syngas which can then be synthesized into kerosene using standard industrial processes. When combusted, syngas will only produce as much CO2 as went into its manufacture. The new fuel thus makes a major contribution to effectively decarbonising air transport.

“Our team-up with Synhelion is founded on our shared vision to make carbon-neutral flying in regular flight operations possible through the use of solar fuel” said SWISS Chief Executive Officer Dieter Vranckx. “We are proud that SWISS will be the first airline in the world to fly with solar kerosene. In partnering with Synhelion, we are supporting Swiss innovation and are actively pursuing and promoting the development, the market introduction and the scaling-up of this highly promising technology for producing sustainable fuels.”

Dr. Philipp Furler, Synhelion’s co-founder and CEO, added that its next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels and that the commitment of SWISS and the Lufthansa Group underlines the aviation sector’s keen interest in the new fuel.

Synhelion will build the world’s first-ever facility for the industrial production of solar fuel in Jülich (Germany) this year. SWISS is set to become the first customer for the solar kerosene in 2023. Under the collaboration now concluded, SWISS and the Lufthansa Group will support the development of Synhelion’s planned commercial fuel production facility in Spain, too.

Swiss pioneer Synhelion, SWISS, Edelweiss and the Lufthansa Group have been working together since 2020 to help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of Swiss aviation through the use of solar fuels. SWISS plans to adopt a pioneering role in the use of sustainable fuels from renewable sources.

The Lufthansa Group and SWISS have been pursuing and promoting comprehensive measures to minimize their carbon dioxide emissions for several years now, and work closely with their partners to steadily further reduce the environmental impact of their business and operational activities. SWISS will be substantially increasing its use of sustainable aviation fuels in the next few years to help achieve its climate objectives. In view of the limited availability of biofuels, however, alternatives will be required.

“This is why we are actively supporting the development of solar fuels” said 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.”

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