E-fuels…society has a number of these now in use. Many fuels in North America contain some percentage of ethanol. Often these e-fuels are made from crops such as corn or sugar cane thus driving up the price of those crops.
Global warming, high fuel prices, and degradation of the environment due to the mining of ever harder to extract fossil fuels are troubling problems. Transportation accounts for a very large percentage of the CO² pumped into the atmosphere.
CO² Emissions, Finite Oil Supplies and the Need for E-Fuel
Carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of global warming. We are at the mercy of oil-producing countries that manipulate supply and thus price of a finite oil supply. As land sources dry up we look to more remote and usually more fragile environments to find oil to feed our need for fuel.
Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could find an environmentally friendly source of fuel? Click To Tweet The ideal fuel would not feed the atmosphere with more CO². The ideal fuel would not rape the earth causing pollution and death of species. It would use waste biomass so food prices would not increase. Or better yet, a process using carbon dioxide itself would make a highly sought after biofuel.
Audi has partnered with Global Bioenergies to create just such an e-fuel. It is a carbon-neutral fuel. That means that the amount of CO² released into the environment in burning the fuel is equal to the amount of CO² used to make the fuel.
In addition to its carbon neutral nature, Audi’s e-fuel works just like regular gasoline and in fact burns more efficiently in internal combustion engines. After testing their fuel inside a simulated engine, Reiner Mangold, head of sustainable product development at Audi has determined this fuel is as good or better than conventional fuel. It’ll get you much more bang for your buck.
How is this fuel created?
Energy from the sun, non-potable (dirty) water and CO² are used by photosynthetic microorganisms. As these organisms photosynthesize they release e-fuel. It has no sulfur or benzene. Therefore, it burns clean.
Other researchers such as Daniel Nocera and Pamela Silver are also working on biofuel production using the raw materials of photosynthesis. It’s only a matter of time before creation of this type of fuel becomes very cost efficient.
Other-fuel options include hydrogen powered vehicles and electric motors. At this point our transportation infrastructure is not designed to service vehicles using either fuel type. Audi’s e-fuel can be distributed using existing infrastructure which is a huge savings in itself. It means that when this fuel production becomes cost-effective it will be a quick transition to switch to this more friendly synthetic fuel.
So, yes Audi, along with its partner Global Bioenergies, has created a high octane-fuel. Will there be bumps along the road. Likely there will. Will there be doubters. Most definitely. As long Audi keeps moving towards solutions that produce a fuel with minimal conventional energy input, they are moving in the right direction. Environmentalists and car enthusiasts should be pleased with this development! Leave your thoughts in the comment section. I’d be happy to hear what you have to say on this topic.