Lufthansa Group to develop fuel from “concentrated sunlight”

18 May 2020 by Mark Caswell
Aircraft and sunrise over the clouds (image supplied by Lufthansa Group)

Lufthansa Group has signed a Letter of Intent with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and spin-offs Clime-works and Synhelion to accelerate the launch of airline fuel derived from sunlight, water and CO2 extracted from the atmosphere.

The group said that “researchers and engineers at ETH Zurich have developed innovative processes that make it possible to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and, together with water and with the help of concentrated sunlight, convert it into a synthesis gas that can be used to produce jet fuel”.

A press release said that “Such a fuel releases only as much CO2 as was previously extracted from the atmosphere”, adding that “It is the common goal of the signatories to prepare these promising technologies for later production on an industrial scale”.

The partnership will include cooperation in the areas of technology and economic efficiency, as well as an agreement “acceptance quotas of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) at a later date in order to support future demonstration projects of the partners”.

A B777 engine (image supplied by LUfthansa Group)

Commenting on the news Christina Foerster, executive board member of Deutsche Lufthansa AG responsible for customer  and corporate responsibility, said:

“With the planned cooperation, we are once again underlining the importance of Sustainable Aviation Fuels for the goal of achieving aviation with a balanced CO2 sheet. The Lufthansa Group has been working hard for years to make flying ever more sustainable. Thanks to the forward-looking technologies and the cooperation with innovative partners in already two of our home markets, we are on the right track.”

Lufthansa Group said that since 2011 it had been “driving forward key technologies for the production of sustainable aircraft fuels through targeted cooperations”, with a focus on on sustainable fuels based on residual materials, woody biomass and renewable electrical energy (Power-to-Liquid).

Last year the group launched sustainability platform ‘Compensaid’, enabling passengers to track and offset their individual carbon footprint.

Travellers can choose to offset through the purchase of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, with the platform calculating the market-based surcharge depending on the journey take.

Lufthansa launches Compensaid carbon offset platform

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