Solar Fuel Plant Paves the Way for Sustainable Future

Service Engineering

“When you burn a fuel, you basically have the production of heat and water and carbon dioxide. Basically, what we do is look at processes that reverse that, and the most straightforward way is to take CO2, water vapour and use heat to try and reverse that process.” - Chief Executive Officer of Synhelion, Dr Gianluca Ambrosetti

The firm uses heliostats to yield concentrated solar power and heat to more than 1500°C to make synthesis gas. This is then converted into artificial fuels like jet fuel or gasoline. Synhelion has been moving forward with commercialization since 2016, and they just overcame the final significant technological hurdle for the manufacturing of their products on an industrial scale.

“he firm uses heliostats to yield concentrated solar power and heat to more than 1500°C to make synthesis gas“

The first industrial-scale operation for this energy harvesting technique is called DAWN. The facility will have a solar tower standing at 20m and a 1,500-m2 total mirrored surface heliostat field. The program is able to be cost-effective because the tower innovations work 24 hours a day, meaning a few thousand litres of synthetic gasoline can be churned out annually.

MD of Synhelion Germany, Patrick Hilger, explained that “With the construction of DAWN, Synhelion can prove its successful business model and establish itself as a serious player among synthetic fuel producers. The plant will demonstrate that solar fuels are not just a theoretical construct but will soon actively contribute to decarbonizing aviation and long-distance transportation.”

The plant will be constructed in Germany's Brainergy Park. Although DAWN will only produce a small quantity of fuel, it acts as a prototype to show the potential of larger plants that may be built later on. According to Synhelion, a plant of the same scale in an environment that experiences more sun could create 150,000 litres of solar fuel annually.

The first airline to use Synhelion's solar kerosene will be Swiss International.

Dr Ambrosetti concluded: “With DAWN we are laying the foundation for the industrial production of solar fuels. Our goal is to reach a production capacity of 875 million litres of fuel per year in future commercial plants by 2030.”

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