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Ansys Fuels Carbon-Free Transportation With Synhelion

Swiss clean energy startup uses Ansys simulation solutions to create solar fuels and reduce CO2 emissions.

Swiss clean energy startup uses Ansys simulation solutions to create solar fuels and reduce CO2 emissions.

Synhelion uses Ansys’ multiphysics simulation solutions and high-temperature solar heat to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into synthetic fuels. Image courtesy of Ansys


Ansys solutions are helping Synhelion steer toward cleaner transportation and net-zero emissions by helping to enable the development of solar fuels to replace fossil fuels. Synhelion became a member of the Ansys Startup Program in the beginning of 2020 when cooperation with the Swiss Elite Channel Partner CADFEM started. As a pioneer in the field of sustainable solar fuels, Synhelion uses Ansys' multiphysics simulation solutions and high-temperature solar heat to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into synthetic fuels—such as solar gasoline, diesel or jet fuel—that are compatible with conventional internal combustion engines and aircraft turbines.

 

To perform this conversion, mirrors reflect the sunlight and concentrate it directly onto a solar receiver where a heat-transfer fluid is heated to temperatures up to 1,500 degrees Celsius, or 2,732 degrees Fahrenheit. This solar heat is then used to drive the thermochemical reactor that produces sustainable fuel.

Synhelion leverages Ansys' computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) software, entrusting Ansys Fluent and Ansys Mechanical to understand the complex flow and replicate thermofluid dynamics to design and validate capable equipment, despite scorching temperatures. With Ansys' simulation tools, Synhelion can overcome design challenges, predict future outcomes and reduce prototyping time. 

“Ansys' CFD and FEA simulation allows us to develop, test, and validate extremely complex technology to create sustainable solar fuels,” says Lukas Geissbühler, head Thermal Systems at Synhelion. “Particularly, in developing our solar receiver, we needed sophisticated and predictively accurate software and Ansys delivered.”

By using concentrated solar energy directly in a thermochemical process, Synhelion can use 100% of the light spectrum, rather than using photovoltaic (PV) panels, where only 20% of the light spectrum can be used. Synhelion's thermal energy storage technology enables low-cost solar heat round the clock.

“Ansys is passionate about creating a sustainable future from road infrastructure to aviation and everything in between,” says Shane Emswiler, senior vice president of products at Ansys. “By helping to enable a solution for sustainable fuels, we are driving sustainable innovation forward on the ground and in the air, addressing climate change challenges, and moving toward a cleaner future.”

Synhelion recently raised 16 million Swiss francs (about $17.5 million) during its Series B funding round and will use the funding to build the world's first plant capable of producing solar fuels at an industrial scale. Synhelion is also using solar heat to produce cleaner cement, working in partnership with CEMEX, a global concrete and cement manufacturing company.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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