Press Kit

About Synhelion

Synhelion uses the power of the sun to decarbonize transportation. We produce solar jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline, which can directly replace fossil fuels. Our sustainable solar fuels are carbon-neutral as they only emit as much CO2 as went into their production. They are fully compatible with existing global fuel infrastructure and offer the most economically viable, efficient, scalable, and environmentally friendly solution for clean, long-distance transportation.

Our technology reduces CO2 emissions in multiple transportation sectors. It also supports the decarbonization of industries that require high-temperature process heat such as cement manufacturing.

We work with solar heat because it is the cheapest renewable energy. It’s abundantly available and broadly distributed around the world. To turn sunlight into fuel, we have developed four innovation fronts: heliostats, a solar receiver, a thermochemical reactor, and thermal energy storage.

We use the sun’s radiation directly by reflecting it with a mirror field (heliostats) and concentrating it onto our solar receiver. Our precise control technology focuses the heliostats to minimize optical losses and optimize the use of space and material resources. The heliostats are slightly curved to increase solar concentration and are specially designed to be coupled with our solar receiver.

The solar receiver converts solar radiation into process heat beyond 1’500°C, making it possible to drive industrial processes such as fuel production and cement manufacturing with solar heat for the first time.

Our thermochemical reactor technology can process a variety of feedstocks into carbon-neutral solar fuels: from RED II certified biogenic methane of biowaste origin to CO2 from Direct Air Capture. As we’re capable of working with different CO2 sources, our technology is adaptable to the dynamic and varied global market conditions that will characterize the coming decades.

The solar heat generated during the day can be stored by our inexpensive thermal energy storage, enabling round-the-clock fuel production and making our solar fuel plants self-sufficient and independent from electrical grid infrastructure.

Self-contained plants that operate independently from electrical grid infrastructure make our technology quickly and broadly scalable worldwide. We are currently building DAWN, the world’s first industrial facility for the production of carbon-neutral solar fuel in Jülich, Germany. The commissioning of DAWN is scheduled for the end of 2023. We plan to commission the first commercial production facility in Spain by 2025.

By 2033, we are targeting a production cost below EUR 1 per liter and a commercial production capacity of 1 million tons of fuel per year. This volume corresponds to about half of Switzerland’s jet fuel demand. We plan to ramp up production capacity to produce 40 million tons of solar fuel annually by 2040, enough to cover about half of European jet fuel demand.

We believe in a globalized world, where people enjoy the freedom to travel sustainably and cultivate personal and professional relationships. As liquid fuels continue to be needed for travel, transportation, and freight, we need to shift to sustainable, cleaner alternatives. Our solar fuels contribute to improved global energy security and independence from fossil fuel sources. They close the carbon cycle and drive a world connected by clean, sustainable transportation.

Find answers to frequently asked questions.

Find the German version here.

Our roadmap

2014

Proof of concept

After decades of top research at ETH Zurich, we produced the world’s first solar jet fuel from H2O and CO2 in the lab.

2019

Small-scale demonstration

We demonstrated our technology under real field conditions in the center of Zurich and produced the world’s first carbon-neutral fuels from air and sunlight.

2019

Medium-scale demonstration

Within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 program, the Sun-to-Liquid project produced solar fuel at the Very High Concentration Solar Tower of IMDEA Energy in Móstoles, Spain.

2020

Full-scale demonstration of key components

We built a 250 kW prototype of our solar receiver and tested it at DLR Synlight. The receiver generated world record outlet temperatures beyond 1’500°C.

2022

Production of the world’s first solar syngas

Synhelion has reached the last decisive technical milestone for the industrial production of carbon-neutral solar fuels.

2023/2024

First industrial solar fuel plant

Plant DAWN demonstrates the solar fuel technology on an industrial scale. Located in Jülich, Germany, the plant will produce fuel batches for showcases.

2025/2026

First commercial solar fuel plant

Our first commercial plant will be built in Spain and will produce 1’000 tons of fuel per year.

2033

Global rollout

Ramp-up of production capacity to 1 million tons of fuel per year.
For example, this would cover half of the kerosene fueled in Switzerland.

2040

Toward net zero

Ramp-up of production capacity to 40 million tons of fuel per year.
For example, this would cover half of the kerosene fueled in Europe.

2050

Synhelion contributes substantially to a net-zero transportation sector.

Synhelion at a glance

2016

Founding year

ETH Zurich

Origin

3

Countries

45

Employees

19

Patent families

CHF 60 M

Funding

1’500°C+

Process heat

1’000’000 t

Annual fuel production by 2033

Press releases

    Images

    General technology

    Close up of Synhelion's illuminated solar receiver

    Close-up of Synhelion’s proprietary solar receiver, which provides the necessary process heat to produce solar fuels.

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    synhelion - solar tower and illuminated solar receiver

    The mirror field concentrates the solar radiation onto the DLR multifocus solar tower (right), where Synhelion’s solar receiver can be seen brightly illuminated.

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    synhelion - heated solar receiver

    Synhelion’s illuminated and heated solar receiver.

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    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field - process

    An overview of how our Sun-to-Liquid technology works. English version.

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    synhelion - technischer ablauf

    An overview of how our Sun-to-Liquid technology works. German version.

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    synhelion - test synlight

    The Synlight test facility at DLR with dozens of spotlights for the generation of artificial sunlight and an illuminated receiver.

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    synhelion - solar receiver - team

    Synhelion’s team works on the solar receiver at DLR. From left to right: Philipp Furler (CEO), Philipp Good (CTO), Simon Ackermann (Head Chemistry), Lukas Geissbühler (Head Thermal Systems).

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    synhelion - mirror field at dlr - heliostats

    The mirror field of the DLR in Jülich consisting of many heliostats in a row.

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    synhelion - mirror field at dlr - heliostats

    The mirror field of the DLR in Jülich consisting of many heliostats in a row.

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    Test facility German Aerospace Center near Cologne (DE)

    At the solar tower of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Jülich, Germany, we are demonstrating the production of syngas on large scale. This 80’000 m2 solar facility has more than 2’000 mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto the two solar towers. The demonstration of our technology at this research facility marks the last milestone before we build our own industrial-scale solar fuel production facility in 2022.

    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field at dlr

    Solar tower and mirror field of DLR in Jülich. The mirrors concentrate the sunlight on the brightly illuminated spot on the left tower.

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    Close up of Synhelion's illuminated solar receiver

    Close up of the solar tower of DLR in Jülich.

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    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field with illuminated solar receiver

    Aerial view of the solar tower and mirror field of DLR, Jülich. The mirror field concentrates the solar radiation onto the solar tower and heats up the solar receiver.

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    synhelion - heliostats at dlr

    Adjusted heliostats (mirror field) to concentrate the solar radiation at DLR in Jülich.

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    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field

    Solar tower and mirror field of DLR in Jülich.

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    synhelion - solar tower and mirrorfield at dlr - furler - ambrosetti

    Synhelion’s CEOs and Co-Founders Philipp Furler (left) and Gianluca Ambrosetti (right) stand in the mirror field looking at the solar tower of the DLR test facility in Jülich.

    Download | Source: Synhelion

    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field at dlr

    Solar tower and mirror field of DLR in Jülich. The mirrors concentrate the solar radiation on the brightly illuminated spot.

    Download | Source: Synhelion

    synhelion - solar tower and heliostats at dlr

    The mirror field concentrates the solar radiation onto solar tower of DLR in Jülich.

    Download | Source: Synhelion

    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field at dlr

    The mirror field concentrates the solar radiation onto solar tower of DLR in Jülich.

    Download | Source: Synhelion

    synhelion - solar tower and mirror field at dlr

    The mirror field concentrates the solar radiation onto solar tower of DLR in Jülich
    and heats up the solar receiver.

    Download | Source: Synhelion

    Video footage

    Video footage available in higher quality upon request.

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    Management

    Dr. Gianluca Ambrosetti
    CEO and Founder

    Synhelion - Gianluca Ambrosetti

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    PhD in Physics/Nanotechnology

    Gianluca obtained his PhD in Physics/Nanotechnology from EPFL Lausanne. He held various positions in the concentrated solar power and photovoltaics industry – among them he was Head of Research at Airlight Energy and Managing Director of Dsolar. His achievements include several patents and scientific publications, and he is the recipient of the EPFL Prix Prof. René Wasserman 2011. He co-founded Synhelion in 2016 and now holds the position of CEO, together with Philipp. Gianluca is a passionate jazz soprano saxophone player and performs regularly at concerts and jazz festivals.

    Dr. Philipp Furler
    CEO and Founder

    Synhelion - Philipp Furler

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    PhD in Mechanical Engineering/Solar Thermochemistry, EMBA

    Philipp holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich since 2014. In 2018, he completed his Executive MBA at the University of Strathclyde. Philipp has more than ten years of experience in high-temperature solar chemistry and reactor engineering. For several years, he served as Operating Agent – Solar Chemistry Research for the International Energy Agency’s technology program SolarPACES. Prior to joining Synhelion, Philipp co-founded the ETH spin-off company Sunredox, which was acquired by Synhelion in 2018. He now holds the position of CEO, together with Gianluca.

    Dr. Philipp Good
    Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

    Synhelion - Philipp Good

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    PhD in Mechanical Engineering/Solar Energy

    Philipp performed his PhD research in Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zurich in close collaboration with a concentrated solar power company. He joined Synhelion in 2017. Philipp has more than seven years of experience in the design, modelling, engineering, and experimental testing of high-temperature solar receivers and the optical alignment, characterization, and operation of solar concentrators. He is a passionate tennis player and participates in tournaments and team competitions.

    Thomas Syfrig
    Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

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    lic. oec. HSG, CFA, Advanced Federal Diploma Expert for Accounting and Controlling

    Thomas is a seasoned financial professional with a broad range of experience in Switzerland and abroad. With over two decades of financial expertise including positions as CFO, he significantly contributed to major transactions, including the sale of a large telecom company, and worked as a director at Credit Suisse in Zurich and New York. Before joining Synhelion, he served as the CFO of Bergbahnen Flumserberg and the publicly traded Poenina Holding until its merger with Burkhalter Group. He holds a Licentiate in Business Administration from the University of St. Gallen as well as an Advanced Federal Diploma as Expert for Accounting and Controlling and is a CFA charterholder. He loves spending time in the mountains. Alternatively, he enjoys water activities, both below and above the surface.

    Patrick Hilger
    Managing Director Synhelion Germany

    Synhelion - Patrick Hilger

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    MSc in Energy Engineering

    Patrick graduated with a Master of Science in Energy Engineering from RWTH Aachen University. He worked as a project engineer for the research institutions Solar Institute Jülich (SIJ) and German Aerospace Center (DLR) in the field of heliostat development and played a key role in the design and construction of Synlight, the largest artificial sun in the world. Together with Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hoffschmidt, he founded Heliokon GmbH in 2016, which has been part of Synhelion as Synhelion Germany GmbH since 2021.

    Simon Dieckmann
    Managing Director Synhelion Germany

    Synhelion - Simon Dieckmann

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    Dipl.-Ing. Mechanical Engineering + Dipl.-Ing. Engineering & Business

    Simon holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering with focus on aerospace technology and a degree in Engineering & Business from RWTH Aachen University. Before joining Synhelion in 2019, he worked for several years as a research engineer at the German Aerospace Center, where he gained extensive experience in the techno-economic assessment of renewable energy technologies and CSP-related software development.

    Measurements

    Minimum spacing
    w = 40 mm
    h = 9,5 mm

    Protected space around logo
    3× (increases proportionally)