Audi steps up research into new e-fuel production

Audi e-gas plant

Audi has been working for some time now on creating new synthetic, CO2 emission-free fuels. These e-fuels, as they’re called, are produced incredibly efficiently, through the electrolysis of water to create both hydrogen and oxygen. This allows Audi to create a fuel that can make conventional combustion engines run without emitting any CO2, thus drastically reducing greenhouse gases without the need for electric propulsion. If Audi can crack this code and produce e-fuel at a higher, more cost-effective rate, this could be huge. Which is why news of Audi ramping up its research and efforts into e-fuels is big.

Audi and its partners Ineratec GmbH and Energiedienst Holding AG are going to be developing a new facility in Switzerland that’s dedicated to their work in e-fuel, mainly e-diesel. “At the project in Laufenburg, thanks to a new technology we are able to handle the production of e-diesel efficiently in compact units, making it more economical. The pilot facility offers scope for sector coupling, in other words combining the energy sectors power, heat and mobility, and makes it possible to store renewable energy,” explained Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG.

The creation and production of this e-diesel is quite complicated and science-y, too much for my small brain to comprehend. Since I can’t explain it any better, I’ll let Audi explain. “To produce it, the power-to-liquid plant converts surplus hydropower into synthetic fuel. A chemical principle is applied: The green power generated on site in the hydroelectric power station produces hydrogen and oxygen from water by means of electrolysis. In the next step the hydrogen reacts with CO2, using an innovative and very compact microprocess technology. The CO2can be obtained from the atmosphere or from biogenous waste gases and, as with all Audi e-fuels, is the only source of carbon. Long-chain hydrocarbon compounds are formed. In the final process step these are separated into the end products Audi e-diesel and also waxes, which are put to use in other areas of industry.” Audi said in a recent press release.

The Laufenburg, Switzerland plant isn’t built yet but Audi and its partners will submit the application to build in in a few weeks. The plans are to begin construction in 2018 and have the plant developing its first batches of e-diesel next year.