New highly efficient eco-diesel by Audi, produced from water and carbon dioxide, holds a potential to revolutionize the automobile industry and bring us a step closer to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
One year after the announcement, the first batch of “green” diesel, or as Audi call it “synthetic e-diesel” was made. Earlier this month, Audi’s pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, run by the promising start-up, Sunfire, began operation. The facility has the capacity to produce 160 l (42 gallons) of the e-diesel per day.
The production process involves a number of crucial steps, starting from separating water into oxygen and hydrogen. To do this, the makers use the method of reversible electrolysis, and the electricity to power this process is provided by renewable sources. The next step involves conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2), which should ideally be captured from the atmosphere, into carbon monoxide (CO). It is then combined with the hydrogen to produce a liquid substance, referred to as “blue crude” that contains long chains of hydrocarbons. The last step is to refine this liquid until it turns into the synthetic e-diesel.
According to Audi and Sunfire, the fuel performs much better than fossil fuels, while the process of making is highly energy efficient. The clean fuel is much more environmentally friendly as it does not contain sulfur and oils, and the engines of vehicles that run on it are much quieter. The fuel can be used as is, or it can be combined with conventional diesel, as it is currently done with all biofuels.
The technology is very close to being commercialized. The guys from Sunfire claim that the only thing they are missing is their first order. The makers have also estimated that the cost of their product will be highly competitive, 1-1.5 euros per liter, but this is very much determined by electricity prices. Nevertheless, the two companies are convinced that they should already start looking into building a bigger production plant.
The honors to test the e-diesel for a first time were given to Johanna Wanka, Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research. Her work car, Audi A8 model, was the first in history to run on the new eco-friendly diesel by Audi.
Image (c) Audi