SWISS to power aircraft with ‘sun-to-liquid’ fuel in 2023

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) aims to become the “the first airline in the world to fly with solar kerosene,” according to an statement made by the Swiss flag carrier on March 1, 2022.  

SWISS and its parent company the Lufthansa Group formed a strategic collaboration with Zurich-based Synhelion, a company that focuses on developing technologies for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using renewable energy sources, such as solar heat.  

“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 Dieter Vranckx, chief executive officer of SWISS. 

Vranckx added: “We are actively pursuing and promoting the development, the market introduction, and the scaling-up of this highly promising technology for producing sustainable fuels.” 

The announcement is part of the airline’s goal to substantially increase its use of SAF “in the next few years”, while continuing to follow its long-term sustainability strategy, the statement continued. 

The technology, which is being developed by Synhelion, uses concentrated solar heat to manufacture syngas, which can be synthesized into kerosene to fuel aircraft. According to the company, the new ‘sun-to-liquid’ aviation fuel will only release carbon emissions into the atmosphere that were absorbed during production. 

“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,” the chief executive officer of Synhelion, Philipp Furler, said. 

Synhelion is currently focused on building the world’s first facility to produce solar fuel in Julich, Germany, in 2022. The company expects to provide its first customer, SWISS, with solar kerosene in 2023. 

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