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  • “E-Diesel” May Be The “Fuel of the Future" - Blow Off

“E-Diesel” May Be The “Fuel of the Future" - Blow Off

Diesel Future

Jun 13, 2015
Photographers: Audi
A brand-new fuel made from CO2, water, and electricity called “e-diesel” has been invented, and the first 5 liters went straight into the tank of an Audi A8 3.0L TDI this April. That diesel-powered luxury sedan belongs to Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, the Federal Minister of Education and Research for Germany, and the tank top-off was a show of support for the fuel she calls a “huge success” and Audi calls “The Fuel of the Future.” If you ask me, those may be understatements. In addition to being made from water, CO2 captured directly from city air, and electricity from solar and wind power, the synthetic fuel has a high cetane rating, no sulfur, and no aromatic hydrocarbons. This means e-diesel is renewable and clean, can be produced locally—and the production can actually clean the air we breathe. It sounds too good to be true.
Photo 2/3   |   The first 5 liters of “e-diesel” were poured into the fuel tank of an Audi A8 3.0L TDI quattro driven by Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, the Federal Minister of Education and Research for Germany. She is shown here with Reiner Mangold, the Head of Sustainable Product Development at Audi.
Fast Fuel
In less than three years, Audi and its partners have taken e-diesel from the conceptual stage to the point where they felt safe adding it to the tank of a prominent government figure’s personal vehicle (OK, maybe some people would like to funnel a bucket of undesirable liquid into a politician’s fuel tank, but we doubt Audi is attempting to prank a member of the German cabinet). With the assistance of the “power-to-liquid” specialists at Sunfire and ambient-air–extraction engineers at Climeworks, the e-diesel plant project went from planning in 2012 to construction in 2013 to commission in 2014. Just a few months later, the facility in Dresden was making e-diesel that’s ready to use, and now there are plans to produce another 3,000 liters (792.5 gallons) in the coming months.
Photo 3/3   |   Audi A8 Ediesel JohannaWanka ReinerMangold
How It’s Made
As seen in this Audi diagram, the production of e-diesel starts with water put through an electrolysis process at a temperature of 800 degrees C (1,472 degrees F) using electricity from renewable sources. That process splits water into pure oxygen and pure hydrogen, and the oxygen is released into the atmosphere (and no one’s going to complain about that!). Next, the remaining H2 is combined with CO2 that can be filtered from the atmosphere (although most is currently supplied by a biogas facility). Then, it’s put under high pressures and temperatures inside synthesis reactors, causing the gases to form long-chain hydrocarbons called “Blue Crude.” The only other product is H2O, and the entire process to this point has a very high efficiency—up to 70 percent. The Blue Crude can then be refined just like conventional crude oil to become e-diesel. It’s a fascinating concept, and it looks like e-diesel may be the future of not only diesel, but even gasoline, and the engine that “runs on water” may become reality.
Trevor Reed
treed@enthusiastnetwork.com
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