Lufthansa Group-backed solar fuels start-up Synhelion inaugurated its first industrial-scale plant to produce synthetic fuels using solar heat.

The plant in Julich Germany, called Dawn, is the world’s first of its kind and “will produce several thousand litres of fuel per year”, the company said on 20 June. It is expected to begin the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in 2024.

Dawn features a 20m (65.6ft) high solar tower and a mirror field. The solar tower contains a solar receiver, a thermochemical reactor, and a thermal energy storage that enables cost-efficient solar fuel production around the clock, Synhelion says.


Source: Synhelion

Lufthansa Group-backed solar fuels company Synhelion inaugurated its first plant, in Julich, Germany, on 20 June2024

The plant will produce synthetic crude oil, known as “syncrude” that will be processed into certified fuels at a conventional oil refinery, the company adds. The resulting products will include kerosene for aviation and gasoline and diesel for road transportation and shipping applications.

“Dawn demonstrates the entire technology chain from concentrated sunlight to synthetic liquid fuel on an industrial scale for the first time,” Synhelion says.

Both Lufthansa and its Zurich-based subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines have invested in Synhelion, as has Swiss business and military trainer aircraft maker Pilatus Aircraft.

“The large-scale use of sustainable aviation fuels is one of the most important measures to achieve the CO2 targets in aviation,” says Swiss’ chief commercial officer Heike Birlenbach. “The inauguration of Dawn marks a milestone in this process.”

Synhelion founder and chief executive officer Philipp Furler adds that the inauguration of Dawn is ”a turning point for sustainable transportation”.

“Our founding dream of producing renewable fuels from solar energy is becoming a reality,” he says.

Synhelion was a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH in Zurich in 2016. Following the German plant, construction of the first commercial production plant for SAF in Spain is planned from 2025.