Swiss solar fuels start-up Synhelion SA on Tuesday launched construction of its demonstration plant in Juelich, Germany, where it will showcase the entire process of making synthetic liquid fuels using solar heat.
Touted as the world’s first industrial solar fuels plant, the company’s DAWN facility will produce solar kerosene and gasoline from methane and CO2 in a thermochemical reactor that will get heat from concentrated sunlight.
The thermochemical reactor, a solar receiver and thermal energy storage, all developed by Synhelion, will be housed in a 20-metre-high (65.6 ft) tower. Next to it, the company will assemble a heliostat field with a mirror surface of 1,500 square metres.
The DAWN plant site is located at Brainergy Park in Juelich, a town where the company set up the headquarters of Synhelion Germany. It is also the location of Synhelion’s project partners -- the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Solar Institute Juelich of Aachen University of Applied Sciences.
Synhelion expects to produce “several thousand liters” of fuel per year at the demonstration plant. Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), part of the Lufthansa Group, will be the first to use solar kerosene produced there.
“With DAWN we are laying the foundation for the industrial production of solar fuels. The experience we gain will benefit us in the construction of many more and larger plants,” said Gianluca Ambrosetti, CEO and co-founder of Synhelion. “Our goal is to reach a production capacity of 875 million liters of fuel per year in future commercial plants by 2030.”
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