Audi’s pretty serious on making carbon dioxide-neutral fuels since 2009 and finally this time, it succeeds.
Audi partnered with Sunfire, a Dresden energy technology corporation founded 2010, which utilizes power-to-liquid technology to synthesize e-diesel. It also gained the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany beginning May 2012. This led to building of the plant facility in Dresden-Reick on July 2013 and commissioning by November 2014, initially aiming to produce 3,000 L of the e-diesel.
Basically, Sunfire described the process in three steps namely: electrolysis, conversion, and refinement. So the first phase is the electrolysis of water, in which hydrogen and oxygen is splitted up using green power either from solar, wind or hydro energy. Second, carbon dioxide, as another primary raw material is converted to carbon monoxide, which is synthesized with hydrogen molecules coming from the first phase to produce a hydrocarbon compound, called the Blue Crude, and water as a by-product. Third phase is where this Blue Crude is refined as e-diesel, which can be mixed up with commercial diesels or can perfectly fuel a car on its own.
The electrolysis has been rated to generate hydrogen at about 90 percent, while the conversion rate to the Blue Crude to estimated 70 percent. It’s also been noted to have very high quality with no traces of sulfur and aromatic hydrocarbons causing pollution, and has high cetane content as well, which makes it easy to burn. This makes it recycling carbon-dioxide at its best, pushing towards carbon-dioxide neutral fuels in the forefront of the auto industry.
As Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka actually used the first 5L of e-diesel into her Audi A8 3.0 TDI remarked, “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is 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, and put the fundamentals of the “green economy” in place.”
The next big step for Audi and Sunfire now is to have a bigger factory to produce e-diesel on a commercial scale. They’re looking to market it cheaper than the prevailing diesel pricing at about 1 to 1.50 Euros per litre, considering cost of the renewal energy used on process complements it.
Well, two thumbs up for Audi on making this a reality. If made available to emerging markets, it will definitely alter a lot, not just pertaining to the auto industry or environmental significance, but on the nations’ economy as well.
How do you think this will be played both by our government and the business sectors if this will find the light of day in our local shores soon?