Will Synhelion’s synthetic fuels prolong the life of conventional transport?
Synhelion is a Swiss-based company that has already produced carbon-neutral “solar fuel” by using solar energy to synthesise atmospheric carbon dioxide and water.
Researchers at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) created the first solar fuel and founded Synhelion in 2016 to bring them to market. They plan to launch the world’s first industrial solar fuel production plant in 2023. If they succeed in producing solar fuel on a large enough scale then current plans to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles could be seen as short-sighted. They are significantly cheaper to produce than current electric vehicles (EVs), much quicker to refuel and have a higher range.
Alternatively, battery technology might improve to such an extent that the limitations of current EVs will disappear. And neither technology is going to be entirely without problems. Combustion produces particle pollution and batteries are difficult to recycle.
And it’s not just road transport they have in their sights. They also make solar aviation fuel and marine fuel. Swiss International Air Lines and its parent Lufthansa Group agreed in March 2022 to use Synhelion’s solar aviation fuel.
The current revolution in transport is just beginning. It will be interesting to see what part Synhelion plays in this story.