Kerosene for jets from solar power, CO2 and water

An eco-friendly, cost-effective Kerosene

DLR researchers and scientists from Switzerland have developed a novel solar system that produces kerosene from concentrated solar energy, CO2 and water after a chemical conversion process. The process is already designed for industrial application.

The novel solar system is located in the Spanish Móstoles and pools the sunlight through a mirror system to 2500 times its normal force or three times the usual temperature in solar energy plants, so that the reactor comes to the enormous temperature of 1500 degrees. The reactor, developed by the project partner ETH Zurich, produces a so-called synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, from water and CO2 through a thermochemical redox reaction. A special Fischer-Tropsch plant, developed by project partner HyGear, converts this synthesis gas into kerosene on site.

SUN-to-LIQUID is a four-year project funded under Horizon 2020, a funding program of the European Commission and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Project start was in January 2016, in December 2019 the project will end. SUN-to-LIQUID unites leading European research institutes and companies in the field of thermochemical solar research: ETH Zurich, IMDEA Energy, DLR, Abengoa Energía and HyGear Technology & Services B.V. The coordinator Bauhaus Luftfahrt e.V. is responsible for the technology and system analysis. ARTTIC supports the research consortium with project management and communication.

A promising technology for jets

Dassault Falcon 2000 lxs
Dassault Falcon 2000 lxs

“The SUN-to-LIQUID reactor technology and the integrated chemical plant have been validated under the typical conditions for industrial fuel production,” said Prof. Aldo Steinfeld of the ETH Zurich, who heads the development of the solar thermal reactor. “The demonstration of this technology could have a major impact on the transportation sector, especially for jets and shipping, which will continue to rely on liquid fuels over long distances,” added Project Coordinator Dr. Andreas Sizmann from Bauhaus Luftfahrt. “We have come one step closer to the goal of sustainably living on an energy income, rather than burning our fossil energy heritage. This is a necessary step to protect our environment. ”

Compared to fossil fuels, SUN-to-LIQUID reduces CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent. Since solar fuel production is best suited to desert locations, there is no competition for agricultural land. The plant is intended to extract the raw material CO2 from the atmosphere over the long term. Future global kerosene demand can thus be met by renewable solar fuels that are compatible with existing fuel infrastructure.