German automobile major Audi has invented a new way to produce e-diesel from CO2 and Water. The company’s research team in Dresden produced the first batch of the fuel a few days ago.
The German government has welcomed the new technology by addressing the initiative as a huge success for sustainability research. Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, who put the first five liters into her official car, an Audi A8 3.0 TDI, said, “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research. If we can make widespread use of CO2 as raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources.”
To produce e-diesel, Audi has partnered with Dresden Energy Technology Corporation, which operates according to the power‑to‑liquid (PtL) principle and uses green power to produce a liquid fuel. Audi has been active in the development of CO2‑neutral fuels since 2009.
Manufacturing of e-diesel involves firstly breaking down steam into hydrogen and oxygen at 800 degrees Celsius through electrolysis. The base fuel is referred to as “blue crude” and begins by taking electricity from renewable power to hydropower and using it to produce hydrogen from water. The hydrogen is then mixed with CO2 that has been converted into CO in two chemical processes, and the resulting reactions produce a liquid made from long-chain hydrocarbons – this is blue crude, which is then refined to create the end product, the synthetic e-diesel.
A visual infographic released by Audi explains the steps in detail.
This synthetic fuel is free from sulfur and aromatic hydrocarbons, and its high cetane number means it is readily ignitable. The company has also partnered with France-based Global Bioenergies to conduct joint research on the synthetic manufacture of Audi e‑gasoline.