Audi widens e-fuel production for CO2-neutral mobility

Audi widens e-fuel production for CO2-neutral mobility

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

For several years already, Audi has been researching CO2-based but climate-friendly fuels such as e-gas, e-petrol or the synthetically produced e-diesel. The company is now taking the next step in e-diesel production. In a project in Laufenburg (Switzerland), the company intends to use a new technology to make the production of e-diesel in compact units more efficient and thus more economical. The pilot plant also offers the possibility of sector coupling, i. e. a combination of the energy sectors electricity, heat and mobility, and makes renewable energy storable.

E-diesel has the potential to operate conventional internal combustion engines almost without CO2 emission. The power-to-liquid plant transforms excess electricity from hydropower into synthetic fuel. This works according to a chemical principle: the green electricity produced locally in a hydroelectric power plant generates hydrogen and oxygen from water by electrolysis. In the next step, the hydrogen reacts with CO2, using a compact new micro process technology. The CO2 can be extracted from the air or from biogenic exhaust gases and is the only source of carbon in this production context. Long-chain hydrocarbon compounds are formed. These are separated in the final process step; one of the end products is e-diesel, a synthetic diesel fuel that can drive existing combustion engines.

Is CO2-neutral mobility possible with conventional 
powertrains? Audi says yes – and this is how the
conversion from electricity to synthetic fuel works.

Construction of the pilot plant is scheduled to begin at the beginning of 2018.  It is expected to produce the first synthetic fuel as early as next year.

For Audi, this is already the second pilot plant that works according to the Power-to-Liquid process. Audi has been working together with energy technology company sunfire in Dresden location since 2014. In the plant there, sunfire is testing the production of e-diesel according to the above-mentioned principle, but with other technologies.

Other Audi e-fuels projects also include the company’s own power-to-gas plant in Werlte, Northern Germany, which produces synthetic methane. In addition, the Ingolstadt-based company is also conducting research into the production of e-gasoline together with specialized partners. The goal is CO2-neutral mobility, because for the production of e-fuels, as much CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere as is released later – at least as long as the electricity used in the electrolysis is generated by renewable sources. The benefit over electromobility: This technology could “neutralize” the existing fleet in terms of CO2 emission, Audi argues.


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