Audi develops synthetic diesel out of water, CO2

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

German carmaker Audi has reportedly developed what they are calling the ”fuel of the future” – a carbon-neutral type of diesel fuel made from nothing but water, carbon dioxide, and renewable energy sources. It was also produced after a commissioning phase of just four months.

Furthermore, according to Science Alert, the synthetic e-diesel is currently being used to power the Audi A8 3 of German Federal Minister of Education and Research Professor Dr. Johanna Wanka, who hailed the breakthrough as “a huge success for our sustainability research.”

“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,” Dr. Wanka added in a statement issued last week by the auto manufacturer, “and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”

E-diesel touted as “superior to fossil fuels”

The clear e-diesel is being produced by a pilot plant set up by Audi and operated by clean tech firm Sunfire. The Dresden-based factory will reportedly produce 160 liters (more than 40 gallons) of the synthetic fuel every day over the next several months. It operates using power-to-liquid principles, using green energy to make liquid fuel from water and CO2.

The product is produced first by harnessing renewable energy from wind, solar, and hydropower sources, then using that power to split water into oxygen and hydrogen through a process known as reversible electrolysis. The hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide created using CO2 harvested from the atmosphere to create hydrocarbon compounds used in the fuel. Once refined, the e-diesel can be used on its own or in combination with currently available diesel fuels.

Reiner Mangold, the head of sustainable product development at Audi, said that he sees the new synthetic diesel as a way to complement electric vehicle technology. He added that “using CO2 as a raw material represents an opportunity not just for the automotive industry in Germany, but also to transfer the principle to other sectors and countries.”

In a statement, Sunfire officials said that an analysis of the fuel showed that its properties were “superior to fossil fuel” and that the e-diesel “is particularly eco-friendly” because it contains no sulfur or fossil oils. Sunfire CTO Christian von Olshausen added that engines using the fuel run “quieter” and produce “fewer pollutants,” ensuring “cleaner and better combustion as a blending component for conventional diesel fuel.”

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