Audi makes diesel – from CO2 and water
Audi has taken another big step in the development of new, CO2-neutral fuels: A pilot plant in Dresden has started production of the synthetic fuel called “Audi e diesel.”
After a development phase of just four months, the research facility started producing its first batches of high‑quality diesel fuel a few days ago.
To demonstrate the synthetic fuel’s suitability for everyday use, Federal Minister of Education and Research Dr. Johanna Wanka put the first five liters of Audi e diesel into her official car (an Audi A8 3.0 TDI).
“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research. 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.
The Dresden energy technology corporation Sunfire is Audi’s project partner and the plant’s operator. It operates according to the power‑to‑liquid (PtL) principle and uses green power to produce a liquid fuel. The only raw materials needed are water and carbon dioxide.
The CO2 used is currently supplied by a biogas facility. In addition, initially a portion of the CO2 needed is extracted from the ambient air by means of direct air capturing, a technology of Audi’s Zurich‑based partner, Climeworks.
Audi e‑diesel and Audi e‑fuels complement electric mobility: “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. 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.”
Over and above the partnership with sunfire, Audi has been active in the development of CO2‑neutral fuels – which Audi calls e‑fuels – since 2009. The Audi e‑gas plant in Werlte, Lower Saxony, already produces Audi e‑gas (synthetic methane) in a comparable manner; drivers of the Audi A3 Sportback g‑tron* can fill up on it using a special fuel card. Audi is also conducting joint research into the synthetic manufacture of Audi e‑gasoline with Global Bioenergies, of France. In a further project, Audi has joined forces with the U.S. company Joule, which uses microorganisms to produce the synthetic fuels Audi e‑diesel and Audi e‑ethanol.