From Blue Crude to Clean Diesel

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 @ 02:05 PM gHale

German automaker, Audi, created its first batch of liquid “e-diesel” at a research facility in Dresden, Germany.

This e-diesel is the result of a “power to liquid” process, created by German clean tech company Sunfire, which is a partner of Audi.

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The process uses carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas, which can end up captured directly from air. Carbon dioxide is the result of burning fossil fuels and contributes to global warming. Sunfire said it can recycle the gas to make a more efficient, carbon-neutral fuel, according to a published report.

Unlike conventional fossil fuels, the “e-diesel” doesn’t contain sulphur and other contaminants. “The engine runs quieter and fewer pollutants are being created,” Sunfire’s Christian von Olshausen said.

They can make the fuel in three steps. First, the researchers heat up steam to very high temperatures to break it down into hydrogen and oxygen. This process requires temperatures over 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit and can end up powered by green energy such as solar or wind power.

Second, they mix the hydrogen with carbon dioxide under pressure and at high temperature to create what they call blue crude. The final step calls for the blue crude to end up refined into fuels in a similar way fossil crude oil is refined into gasoline.

Audi said lab tests shown the “e-diesel” can end up mixed with fossil fuels or used as a fuel on its own.

The new fuel underwent testing by German Education and Research minister Johanna Wanka last week. She put the first five liters into her official car, and declared the project a success.

“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,” she said.

Sunfire said its plant is set to produce more than 3,000 liters of “e-diesel” over the coming months. The company said it was aiming for a pre-tax price of between 1 and 1.20 euros per liter ($1.10 to $1.30), compared to the current German pre-tax price of around 0.6 euros per liter of gasoline.

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