Audi has developed a new fuel for vehicles that is composed of just water and carbon dioxide. The pilot plant is located in Dresen and is being operated by a German start-up called Sunfire. They produced their first batch of “e-diesel” this month and the German Federal Minister of Education and Research has already put a few liters of the fuel in her Audi A8 to commemorate the accomplishment.
The base fuel is referred to as “blue crude” and is initially made by harnessing renewable resources like wind, solar, or hydropower and using it to produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis: the reverse chemical process used to break down H2O. The hydrogen is then mixed with carbon dioxide in two chemical processes. The resulting reaction yields a liquid made from long-chain hydrocarbons. This is blue crude.
The blue crude is then refined to create a final synthetic e-diesel.
Some of the carbon dioxide is taken directly from the surrounding area. This helps remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. According to Sunfire, the e-diesel lacks sulfur and its fossil-based oil make it more environmentally friendly. The overall energy efficiency in the creation of the fuel is 70%.
Using this fuel, engines run quieter and fewer pollutants are created. The fuel itself can be combined with conventional diesel fuel as is often done with biodiesel fuels already. The technology is really for commercialization as soon as Sunfire gets their first sales order. The price is expected to be just above the current price of diesel. It will really depend on the price of electricity though.
Check out this video for an overview of the production process:
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