Synhelion, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), has developed a solar thermal process to create synthetic fuels. The process takes CO2 and water directly from the ambient air. The process heat from concentrated sunlight breaks the chemical bonds and turns them into synthesis gas. This can then be processed into fuel that can be burned in currently available motors.
Synhelion first tested its process in 2019 under real conditions with a system on the roof of the ETH. Since then, the company with headquarters in Lugano has scaled up the individual components of the technology to an industrial scale and developed additional processes to manufacture synthetic fuels. Thanks to the partnership with Wood, Synhelion’s solar technologies are to be brought together with Wood’s novel hydrogen reforming reactor technologies. This should accelerate market maturity. Synhelion plans for the market launch of its solar fuel to take place by 2023.
Synhelion and Wood plan to put a system into operation this year at the German Aerospace Center in Jülich. This is to demonstrate the production of synthesis gas on an industrial scale. The system will also to be used to produce solar thermal hydrogen.
Gianluca Ambrosetti, CEO of Synhelion, is quoted as saying: “With our solar fuels, we want to effectively contribute to reducing CO₂ emissions from transportation.” In addition to Wood, Synhelion has also concluded partnerships with a number of other companies, including Zurich Airport and the airline Lufthansa. A test system is also planned for Zurich Airport, which should produce synthetic fuel from 2023. The airport plans to buy the fuel and use it for its vehicles and machines.