Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the flag carrier of Switzerland, and its parent company Lufthansa Group have finalised an agreement with Synhelion for using its solar aviation fuel.

With this deal, SWISS is said to become the world’s first carrier to use ‘sun-to-liquid’ fuel or solar kerosene. SWISS plans to use this fuel from 2023.

Additionally, the collaboration between SWISS and Synhelion will play a key role in the production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuels.

SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx said: “Our team-up with Synhelion is founded on our shared vision to make carbon-neutral flying in regular flight operations possible through the use of solar fuel. We are proud that SWISS will be the first airline in the world to fly with solar kerosene.

“In partnering with Synhelion, we are supporting Swiss innovation and are actively pursuing and promoting the development, the market introduction and the scaling-up of this highly promising technology for producing sustainable fuels.”

Using concentrated sunlight, Synhelion has developed a process to create sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

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Synhelion said that its unique process utilises solar heat produce syngas that can be synthesised into kerosene with the help of standard industrial processes at a later stage.

It further stated that its sun-to-liquid fuel shuts the fuel carbon cycle when combusted, which results in carbon emission that is equivalent to CO₂ generated during the manufacturing process.

The company claims that this new fuel will be a major driver in air transport decarbonisation.

Later this year, the company plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Jülich, Germany, which is said to be the first in the world to produce solar fuel.

SWISS and the Lufthansa Group also agreed to support Synhelion in establishing a commercial fuel production facility in Spain.

Since 2020, Synhelion, SWISS, Edelweiss and the Lufthansa Group have been working towards minimising carbon emissions in the Swiss aviation space through the use of solar fuels.

Synhelion co-founder and CEO Dr Philipp Furler said: “Our next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels.

“The commitment of SWISS and the Lufthansa Group underlines the aviation sector’s keen interest in our solar fuel.”