The creation of a fuel that is both carbon neutral and can be used for already existing cars has been a dream of energy engineers for years. Numerous companies all over the world are making their attempts to produce an innovative fuel from different kinds of components, from organic waste to vegetable oil and even algae. It seems that the German automaker Audi has succeeded in this.
The company has reported the invention of a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, based exclusively on water and carbon dioxide. Audi has already set up an experimental plant in Dresden, Germany, which is run by clean tech company Sunfire and is planned to pump out 160 litres of the “fuel of the future” daily in the next months.
Currently, the process is far from industrial scale production, but Audi and Sunfire are already planning to build a bigger plant. It is estimated that the market price of the innovative diesel fuel will be between 1 and 1.50 Euros per litre.
How exactly is the eco-friendly fuel produced? The process includes three steps. The first one involves the generation of energy from renewable resources, such as solar, wind and hydropower.
This energy is then used for reversible electrolysis, a process aimed at splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. After this, the hydrogen is mixed with carbon monoxide (CO), which is extracted from carbon dioxide (CO2) collected from the atmosphere. The result is a so-called ‘blue crude’, which is then refined and is ready to be used as a fuel to power cars on its own or in combination with the conventional diesel.
According to the Sunfire analysts, the “e-diesel” is not only environment-friendly, but also has a higher energy efficiency (about 70%) thanks to a better combustion in comparison with fossil fuels.
The e-fuel is already being used by Johanna Wanka, Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, who powers her Audi A8 with it.
“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” she said. “If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”
The invention could revolutionize the car market not only in Europe but also worldwide, and the most surprising fact here is that it was funded by a global leader in car manufacturing, which has been on this market for nearly a century. Well, in my opinion, it’s a good sign.
Perhaps, it means that even the biggest companies in the world begin to realize that the future of humanity is with renewable energy resources and environmentally friendly technologies and that it’s time to end global dependence on fossil fuels.
You can find further information about the carbon-neutral diesel fuel in the video below:
Image credits: Sunfire
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