World’s first industrial-scale solar fuel plant

About DAWN

DAWN is the world’s first industrial-scale solar fuel plant. With this plant, Synhelion demonstrates the entire Sun-to-Liquid process on an industrial scale. DAWN is located in Jülich, Germany, and features the four key innovations developed by Synhelion: heliostat field, solar receiver, thermochemical reactor, and thermal energy storage. DAWN will produce several thousand liters of solar fuel per year.

DAWN was inaugurated in June 2024. The commissioning is still ongoing and fuel production will start soon. The fuels produced will be used to demonstrate possible use cases in various transportation sectors. For example, Swiss International Air Lines will be the first airline to fly on Synhelion’s solar kerosene.

After building the industrial demonstration plant DAWN, Synhelion plans to build its first commercial solar fuel plant in Spain from 2025, which will be able to produce 1’000 tons of solar fuel per year.

Check out our scale-up roadmap

Main specifications

Total mirror surface area: 1’500 m2

Solar input power: 600 kW

Tower height: 20 meters

Financed by Synhelion + EUR 3.92 M from BMWK

Brainergy Park Jülich, Germany

Customers: Swiss International Air Lines and other key customers

Updates of plant DAWN

Inauguration of plant DAWN

June 2024 | Synhelion inaugurated DAWN, the world’s first industrial-scale plant to produce synthetic fuels using solar heat. By inaugurating DAWN, Synhelion proves that the technology to produce solar fuels is ready for large scaling. The renewable fuels will demonstrate the technology’s potential to defossilize the transportation sector.

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Heliostat field

June 2024 | The mirror field is up! At plant DAWN, Synhelion will use a heliostat (mirror) field to reflect the solar radiation onto the solar receiver to generate solar process heat for solar fuel production. Now that the construction of DAWN is completed, Synhelion is proceeding with its effort to commission plant DAWN to start fuel production soon.

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Key components

May 2024 | The key components of our solar fuel technology have been delivered and installed inside the solar tower: the receiver, generating solar process heat, the reactor, converting feedstocks into syngas (the essential component for sustainable liquid fuel), and the thermal energy storage, which retains solar heat for continuous plant operation day and night.

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Fischer-Tropsch unit

March 2024 | The Fischer-Tropsch unit has been delivered to the plant DAWN site. This facility plays a crucial role in converting sustainably produced syngas, the universal key to renewable liquid fuel, into synthetic crude oil (also called syncrude). Following this conversion, the syncrude undergoes additional refinement in a refinery to yield jet fuel, diesel, or gasoline.

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Solar tower

February 2024 | Synhelion has completed the construction of the solar tower. The tower of DAWN is about 20 meters high, and it houses our key innovations to produce solar fuel: the receiver, the reactor, and the thermal energy storage. The tower is uniquely configured to facilitate efficient fuel production. Positioned facing north, its design minimizes shadow casting on the mirror field.

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How it works

Watch this video to see how DAWN technology works.

A mirror field tracks the path of the sun, reflecting the solar radiation and concentrating it onto the receiver on the solar tower. Here, the solar energy is converted into high-temperature process heat of over 1’000°C. This heat is fed to the reactor, together with methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) of biowaste origin, as well as water (H2O), and drives the thermochemical reaction in the reactor to produce syngas, a mixture of H2 and CO. The syngas is then processed by standard gas-to-liquid technology into solar fuels. The integrated thermal energy storage enables round-the-clock fuel production.

More about our technology

The road that led to DAWN

See below to learn about the most important milestones that led to the construction of DAWN, the world’s first industrial-scale solar fuel plant.

2022

Synhelion starts construction of DAWN

With the groundbreaking ceremony, we mark the start of construction work on DAWN – the world’s first industrial demonstration plant to produce synthetic fuels using solar heat. The facility will be the first to demonstrate the entire process from concentrating sunlight to producing synthetic liquid fuel on an industrial scale.

2022

Syngas production on industrial scale

In 2022, Synhelion produced the world’s first solar syngas on an industrial scale at the DLR solar tower in Jülich (DE), reaching the last decisive technological milestone to start the industrial production of solar fuels.

2019

Medium-scale demonstration

In 2019, the SUN-to-LIQUID project produced solar jet fuel at the IMDEA Energy solar concentrating plant in Madrid (ES) within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 program.

2019

Small-scale demonstration

In 2019, we also demonstrated the Sun-to-Liquid technology under real field conditions in the center of Zurich, Switzerland. The solar mini-refinery at ETH Zurich produced the world’s first carbon-neutral fuel from ambient air and sunlight.

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, proving that the Sun-to-Liquid technology not only works on paper but also in real life.

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