From air to gas tanks: Audi introduces e-diesel

New technique uses carbon dioxide from air, mixes with hydrogen obtained from water and then turns into “blue crude” for to be refined into gasoline

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The German automaker has announced that its research plant in Dresden has started to produce the first batch of an “e-diesel” created with a technique using only carbon dioxide from air, water and green energy. The plant plans to synthesise 3 thousand litres of the fuel over the coming months.

Carbon dioxide is one of the most common by-products of biological respiration and industrial processes. Audi’s plan to use this greenhouse gas as a raw material could be revolutionary, not only for the automotive sector but for other sectors as well.

“In developing Audi e-diesel we are promoting another fuel based on CO2 that will allow long‑distance mobility with virtually no impact on the climate,” said Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at Audi.

“Using CO2 as a raw material represents an opportunity not just for the automotive industry in Germany, but also to transfer the principle to other sectors and countries.”

The production technique, developed by Audi’s green technology partner, requires two raw materials, water and carbon dioxide. First, water is heated over 800 degrees Celsius to break it down into oxygen and hydrogen using a green energy source such as wind or solar energy. The hydrogen is mixed with carbon dioxide under high pressures to get blue-crude, which is then refined into gasoline.

Since obtained synthetic fuel is free from pollutants such as sulphur and aromatic hydrocarbons, using it in cars will be more eco-friendly.

"The engine runs quieter and fewer pollutants are being created," said Christian von Olshausen, Sunfire Chief Technology Officer.

Currently, the plant in Dresden can produce 160 litres of blue crude per day with 70 percent efficiency. Almost 80 percent of that can be converted into e-diesel. The Company aims for pre-tax price to be between €1 and €1.20 per liter, which is almost double of the current German pre-tax price of around €0.6 per liter but lower than the current Turkish after-tax price of around €1.4 per litre.  

Nevertheless, company had its first customer for the fuel last week. German Education and Research Minister Johanna Wanka poured the first five litres into her official car’s tank, Audi8, and called the project a “huge success.”

“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” Wanka said.

“If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.

TRTWorld and agencies