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Brief Published: 22 Jul 2020

Lufthansa’s New Eco Fuel Made from Sunlight


Amidst Covid-19 disruption to the travel industry, some airlines and researchers are continuing their efforts to make air travel more sustainable. Towards this, German national carrier Lufthansa is developing jet fuel made from concentrated sunlight, CO2 and water instead of crude oil.

The renewable fuel, which is being developed in collaboration with researchers and engineers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), is made by using sunlight to split water to make hydrogen, which can be used as airline fuel. The resulting renewable fuel produces no net CO2 emissions.

Professor of renewable energy at ETH Zurich, Aldo Steinfeld, said: “In contrast to other modes of transport, air transport will depend on sustainable liquid fuels in the foreseeable future. Their market launch of these types of fuel innovations requires a joint effort by fuel manufacturers and airlines.”

While the implementation of hygiene regimens and virus-proofing is vital for airlines (see Covid-19 & Airlines: The Future Flight), more eco-aligned modes of travel are set to become ever more important to post-Covid travellers, as covered in Profiling the Future Traveller. The notion of flight-shaming as well as the environmental impact of flying remain as pertinent as ever, as explored in our Mid-Year Review 2020: Travel & Hospitality.

Read also Airbus’ Mono-Wing Plane Concept, KLM Designs V-Shaped Eco Planes and Reimagining the Flight of the Future for more on this thinking.