Lufthansa plans to fly clean with Swiss technology

Lufthansa is teaming up with researchers from ETH Zurich and its two spin-offs Climeworks and Synhelion. The aim is to drive forward new aircraft fuels based on renewable energies that make climate-neutral flying possible.

CO2-neutral fuel is to be produced from sun, water and ambient air.
CO2-neutral fuel is to be produced from sun, water and ambient air. Image credit: Lufthansa

Lufthansa has signed a letter of intent to collaborate with researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and its spin-offs Climeworks and Synhelion. According to a press release, the partnership was initiated by the two Swiss Lufthansa subsidiaries Swiss and Edelweiss.

The aim of the cooperation is to accelerate the development and market launch of sustainable aviation fuels. A combination of Swiss technologies will be used to produce CO2-neutral fuel from sun, water and ambient air.

The Zurich-based company Climeworks has developed a technology that can initially be used to extract CO2 from the air. The CO2 is then converted into a synthesis gas together with water and with the help of concentrated sunlight. The expertise of Synhelion, a company based in Lugano, is used for this purpose. The resulting synthesis gas can then be used to produce fuel. Such a fuel is said to release only as much CO2 as was previously removed from the atmosphere.

Thanks to a solar mini-refinery on the roof of the ETH machine laboratory, the Swiss researchers have already proven in 2019 that their technology for producing fuel from CO2, water and sunlight works. They have also already presented another pilot plant in Madrid.

Together with Lufthansa, they want to prepare this promising technology for later production on an industrial scale. They also intend to agree on acceptance quotas of sustainable fuels in order to support future demonstration projects of the partners. Further contents of the partnership are to be worked out by the end of 2020.

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