The initial idea how to finance the transformation to SAF
The story of Airborn Fuels Switzerland AG begins in 2019 with a question: How could the (in Switzerland) unavoidable air ticket levy be designed as a compromise in the total revision of the CO2 law so that it can actually make an effective contribution to its goal? Or in other words: how could it make air travel more climate-neutral and also find acceptance? Studies have shown that passengers are more likely to accept a climate protection levy if it supports directly a concrete and comprehensible contribution to effective climate protection. Pure incentive taxes find less acceptance.
An effective reduction of flight emissions takes place when fossil fuel is replaced by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). There is no other way to achieve net zero as long as one does not want to abolish flying completely. This gave rise to the idea of using up to 49% of the air ticket levy for financing innovation and production of synthetic kerosene.
Together with ETH professor Anthony Patt, Martin Bäumle and Peter Metzinger worked out a proposal, which Martin Bäumle submitted to parliament and which was finally included in the draft of the new CO2 law, which was put to the vote on 13 June 2021.
Incorporating Airborn Fuels Switzerland
After the parliamentary debate and in view of the concrete implementation, however, it became apparent in numerous discussions that there were neither projects for the production and innovation of renewable kerosene in Switzerland, nor were such projects concretely planned on the part of the industry. After this situation did not change over a longer period of time, Airborn Fuels Switzerland AG was founded with the aim of making synthetic kerosene “fly”.
The original founders Martin Bäumle, Alex Gantner and Peter Metzinger were joined in May 2021 by Julien Anet and Andre Heel, two researchers who had the same idea and also already had plans to start their own company. Instead, we decided to join forces.
With Airborn Fuels, we want to create favourable conditions, realise innovations, accelerate market development and bring together the right partners for this purpose.
Among other things, our goal is to build a dual production and research pilot plant in Switzerland in order to later produce synthetic kerosene with innovative Swiss technologies where the required renewable energy is available in surplus.
The pilot project to make synthetic kerosene fly
Even after the totally revised CO2 law failed in the referendum, our goal remains: the construction of a dual pilot plant.
On the one hand, it shall produce synthetic kerosene constantly and in continuous commercial operation.
At the same time, it shall be available to research teams as a demonstration and pilot plant for new developments, so that they can further develop their innovations from laboratory scale to industrial production readiness. For this purpose, the researchers can operate their components at the commercial plant.
The overall goal of the pilot project is to reduce production costs by developing efficiency-enhancing technologies and processes.
The pilot plant will serve as a platform for Swiss research. In this way, we want to contribute to the global goal of reducing the cost of synthetic kerosene by the 2040s to such an extent that it can compete with fossil kerosene without further support.
We are currently planning a plant with the following technical parameters, among others:
- 2 MW renewable electrical energy as input for electrolysis
- 1,000 – 1,600 tonnes of CO2 input, primarily from non-avoidable industry waste gases (e.g. waste incineration) and via direct air capture
- 210,000 – 320,000 litres of synthetic kerosene output
- 106,000 – 160,000 litres of synthetic road fuel output
- 20-40 tonnes of NAPHTA (raw material for plastics and other chemical products)
In addition to synthetic kerosene as the main product, such a plant always produces products that can be used in other ways, such as synthetic petrol, diesel or other hydrocarbons and oxygen. The latter can serve the chemical industry as a starting product for the production of renewable plastics or packaging material. Airborn Fuels is in talks with car importers for the purchase of synthetic vehicle fuel. Synthetic hydrocarbons produced as by-products can bus used to make sustainable packaging.
Based on written letters of intent and numerous discussions with the leading representatives on the production side (to form a consortium), numerous research institutions, potential customers, location promoters and associations, we are optimistic that we will be able to realise our project.
We are currently working on the composition of the consortium, on the further concretisation of the project with a business plan and on purchase agreements. In addition, two possible production sites are being evaluated. As soon as the location decision has been made and the business plan has been drawn up, the search for investors will begin.
Airborn Fuels Switzerland AG
+41 79 628 61 26