Audi is quickly becoming one of the industry leaders in alternative fuels. Not only is its e-tron electric subdivision beginning to really gain some traction, but it’s also working on new fuels for internal combustion engines. We’ve already seen Audi g-tron vehicles go into production, which can run on Compressed Natural Gas, and we’ve heard that Audi is in the process of making e-fuel, which is essentially fuel created from water. Now, though, we’re learning that Audi is making a fuel mixture from beets.
According to this new report from Bloomberg, Audi has teamed up with French biotech company, Global Bioenergies SA, to develop this blend of fuel that can run on any internal combustion engine without modification. The blend is mostly gasoline but 34 percent of it is biofuel made from the waste of a sugar beet. “We’re using the non-eatable part of the sugar beet,” said Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies SA.“No resources must be competing with human food.”
That is apparently an issue with biofuels that I’ve never heard of. If biofuel were to become a main source of fuel for automobiles, that could significantly jack the prices of actual food products up, hurting lower class families. So Global Bioenergies is making sure that the fuel they make is not from human food.
Now, Audi understands that electric cars are the future and the direction the industry needs to go. However, electric cars that run on electricity made from coal or fossil fuels are actually not that helpful for the environment. “If we want to stop climate change, we need renewable fuels,” said Hermann Pengg, the man in charge of Audi’s biofuel research. “Electric vehicles are important to help us cut CO2 emissions, but only if you use green electricity, not if you use coal.”
So this beet fuel can actually be quite helpful in the future, even if it doesn’t become mainstream. Electric cars are great but until many countries improve their energy infrastructures, they won’t be viable worldwide. For instance, even China, a massive global power, makes almost all of its electricity from coal, so a ton of electric cars in China would be just as damaging as normal cars. So something like this biofuel blend, which can run in any gasoline-powered car and has significantly cleaner emissions than gasoline, could be a temporary answer in some of those countries.
Audi is certainly among those at the front of the industry when it comes to alternative fuels. This new beet fuel is odd but interesting and we’ll have to see where it goes.