The clean alternative to fossil fuels.
What are solar fuels?
Fuels made of sunlight
Solar fuels are synthetic fuels produced from solar energy. They are the most economically viable, efficient, scalable, and environmentally friendly solution for clean, long-distance transportation. A cutting-edge technology that offers a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
Why solar fuels?
Solar fuels are chemically akin to fossil fuels. They are fully compatible with the global fuel infrastructure. There is no need to adapt or refit combustion engines, refineries, fuel distribution, or filling stations.
Solar fuels are an economically viable substitute for fossil fuels. Our technology is affordable thanks to a much higher energy conversion efficiency than other synthetic fuel technologies.
Jet fuel for planes, gasoline for cars, marine fuel for ships, and diesel for trucks – Synhelion technology yields any type of fuel. Solar fuels can replace fossil fuels in all application areas.
Solar fuels are scalable to cover global fuel demand. Thanks to the grid-independent setup of our plants, the technology can scale quickly and independently.
The entire life cycle of solar fuels is based on environmentally-friendly principles. The fuels are produced with renewable energy and emit not only less CO2 but also less noxious gases than conventional fuels.
Liquid fuels have a very high energy density. They can be transported and stored for a long time without compromising their quality. A winning combination of two non-negotiables for many fuel-consuming industries.
Ideal conditions to produce solar fuels can be found on any continent. The independence from fossil resources results in greater autonomy. Shorter transportation routes are another key asset.
Our solar fuels close the fuel carbon cycle. They only release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as was used for their production.
Below you will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked by our community.
Is there a chemical difference between solar fuels and conventional fuels?
In principle, solar fuels are identical with conventional fuels. However, they contain less impurities, which means that they emit less noxious gases when they burn. A win-win situation for the environment!
What types of solar fuels can you produce?
We can produce any type of solar fuel: kerosene, gasoline, diesel, methanol, hydrogen, synthetic crude oil, and many more. This is possible because we produce hydrocarbon chains – and fuels are nothing else but hydrocarbon chains of different lengths.
Do solar fuels need special combustion engines?
No, solar fuels are a drop-in technology, which means that they can replace fossil fuels without any need to change the existing infrastructure. They are compatible with existing internal combustion engines and jet engines.
What’s the difference between your solar fuels and e-fuels?
Both, solar fuels and e-fuels are types of synthetic fuels, and there are more. Terms like “biofuel”, “synfuel”, and “e-fuel” are often used interchangeably. But there are important differences between the various types of synthetic fuels regarding their production, scalability, and sustainability. On our blog, we give an overview of the different types of synthetic fuels.
How much will your solar fuels cost?
We target a production cost below EUR 1 per liter by 2030. Our goal is to reach production costs competitive with other sustainable fuel technologies. In the long term, we aim to be competitive with fossil fuel pricing.
Could your technology also be used to produce heating oil or oil for the chemical industry?
Yes, that would be possible. However, we are focusing on the transportation sector because it will continue to rely on energy-dense liquid fuels due to demanding requirements for mobile energy storage.
Is it really possible to reverse combustion?
Yes, it is. When conventional fuels are burnt with oxygen, they release heat, CO2, and water vapor. Synhelion technology reverses this process. With the help of solar heat, we recombine water vapor and CO2 into hydrocarbon fuels.
Can your technology help to solve the climate crisis?
The transportation industry accounts for approximately 25 percent – or 8 billion tons – of manmade CO2 emissions per year. CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Replacing fossil fuels with solar fuels is therefore one of the much-needed solutions to fight climate change. However, Synhelion believes that to combat climate change and its related problems, it is important that many different, new technologies and innovations come together.
Is solar fuel technology scalable to cover global demand?
Yes, because solar fuels are produced from abundant resources and the solar fields are installed on non-arable land. An independent study assessing the geographical potential concludes that solar fuels could cover 50 times the current global jet fuel demand.
Where can your solar fuel production sites be located?
Ideal conditions can be found in desert and high insolation areas around the world. For efficient production, we need a direct normal irradiation (DNI) above 1’800 kWh/m2. Check out the Global Solar Atlas to find out where solar fuel plants could be located.
When will this technology be ready to go on the market?
We are currently building the world’s first industrial facility for the production of carbon-neutral solar fuel in Jülich, Germany. Industrial solar fuel production will start in 2023 in Germany, and by 2025, we plan to commission the first commercial production facility in Spain. By 2030, we are planning to ramp up production capacity to produce 875 million liters of solar fuel per year, enough to cover about half of Switzerland’s jet fuel consumption.
What is new about your technology? Why hasn’t it been developed before?
The thermochemical production of solar fuels requires extremely high process temperatures. We solved key challenges in the transformation of solar radiation to process heat and in thermal energy storage. Furthermore, we developed a unique technology to produce syngas. By combining these three innovation fronts, we can achieve unprecedented efficiency.