Swiss and its parent company, the Lufthansa Group, have partnered with synthetic fuel group Synhelion to use its solar fuel.
This will make Swiss the first airline in the world to use “sun-to-liquid” fuel.
Swiss-based Synhelion, which is a spinoff from the Swiss Institute of Technology, has developed a technology for manufacturing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from renewable energy sources.
The process uses concentrated solar heat to manufacture syngas (synthesis gas) which can then be turned into kerosene.
According to a statement by the airline, when combusted the solar fuel will only produce as much carbon dioxide as went into its manufacture, helping to cut aviation emissions.
Synhelion is set to build its first facility for the industrial production of solar fuel in Germany’s Julich this year, with Swiss becoming the first airline customer for the solar kerosene in 2023.
Swiss CEO Dieter Vranckx commented:
“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.
“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.”
Philipp Furler, Synhelion’s co-founder and CEO, added:
“We believe in a globalized world connected by climate-friendly mobility. Our next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels. The commitment of SWISS and the Lufthansa Group underlines the aviation sector’s keen interest in our solar fuel. And we are looking forward already to the day the first SWISS aircraft takes off with our solar kerosene.”
As part of the deal, Swiss and the Lufthansa Group will also support the development of Synhelion’s planned commercial fuel production facilities in Spain.
The airline added that it will substantially increase its use of sustainable aviation fuels in the next few years, but notes that alternatives will be required “in view of the limited availability of biofuels”.
“This is why we are actively supporting the development of solar fuels. We want to be a pioneer in their use. So our involvement with Synhelion is a key element in our long-term sustainability strategy.”
See a video released by the airline below:
For more information on sustainable aviation fuel, see our feature: ‘What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)?’