Audi says it is stepping up its research into synthetic fuels, with plans to produce “virtually CO2-neutral” e-diesel in a pilot facility in Switzerland.
Teaming up with partners Ineratec GmbH and Energiedienst Holding AG, the Ingolstadt-based automaker says it hopes to start producing e-diesel in Laufenburg next year, with the energy needed for the process coming in the form of hydropower. The planned facility, says Audi, will have a capacity of around 400 000 litres per year.
“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,” said Reiner Mangold, head of sustainable product development at Audi.
Audi says its e-diesel has the potential to make conventional combustion engines operate “almost CO2-neutrally”. To produce it, the power-to-liquid plant converts surplus hydropower into synthetic fuel.
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 a “very compact” microprocess technology. Audi says the CO2 can be obtained from the atmosphere or from biogenous waste gases and is the only source of carbon.
Long-chain hydrocarbon compounds are then formed, before being separated into the end products – e-diesel and waxes, with the latter “put to use in other areas of industry”.