Home SCIENCE A Solar Mini-Refinery – Carbon-Neutral Fuel Made From Sunlight & Air

A Solar Mini-Refinery – Carbon-Neutral Fuel Made From Sunlight & Air


Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a novel technology that produces liquid hydrocarbon fuels exclusively from sunlight and air. For the first time worldwide they demonstrate the entire thermochemical process chain under real field conditions.

source/image(PrtSc): ETH Zürich

The new solar mini-refinery is located on the roof of ETH’s Machine Laboratory building in Zurich.It produces liquid hydrocarbon fuel using thermochemical processes, which they have just demonstrated under real field conditions.

The process chain of the new system consists of three thermochemical conversion processes: the extraction of CO2 and water from the air, the solar-thermochemical splitting of CO2 and their liquefaction into hydrocarbons.


CO2 and water are extracted directly from ambient air via an adsorption/desorption process.Both are then fed into the solar reactor at the focus of a parabolic reflector.The product is syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can then be processed into kerosene, methanol and other hydrocarbons.