Giving Compass' Take:

· Futurity reports that a research plant in Zurich has created a solar refinery that can transform sunlight and air into liquid hydrocarbon fuels by extracting and splitting CO2 and water with solar energy.  

· How does this solar refinery work? What does this mean for the future of energy? How could this be a step in the right direction for sustainable energy sources? 

· Check out these other innovations in sustainable energy.


Carbon-neutral fuels are crucial for making aviation and maritime transport sustainable. The new solar plant produces synthetic liquid fuels that release as much CO2 during their combustion as previously extracted from the air for their production.

The system extracts CO2 and water directly from ambient air and splits them using solar energy. This process yields syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is subsequently processed into kerosene, methanol, or other hydrocarbons. These drop-in fuels are ready for use in the existing global transport infrastructure.

“This plant proves that carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels can be made from sunlight and air under real field conditions,” explains Aldo Steinfeld, a professor of renewable energy carriers at ETH Zurich whose research group developed the technology. “The thermochemical process utilizes the entire solar spectrum and proceeds at high temperatures, enabling fast reactions and high efficiency.”

The solar mini-refinery on a Zurich roof proves that the technology is feasible, even under the climate conditions prevalent in the city. It produces around one deciliter of fuel per day (a little less than half a cup).

Read the full article about transforming light and air into liquid fuel at Futurity.