Maybe EVs aren’t inevitable after all. Audi, together with the German energy company Sunfire, has announced that it is able to synthesize diesel from water and CO2, and that the product can fuel automobiles.
The process involves heating water to 800 degrees Celsius, creating steam. Electricity—from a green-energy power source, naturally, biomass in this case—heats the water, and the resulting high-temperature electrolysis breaks it down into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is released, and the hydrogen is combined with CO2 taken from the atmosphere. Under high heat and pressure, the two synthesize to create a liquid known as blue crude. The blue crude is refined into what Audi calls e-diesel.
So far, e-diesel is being mixed with traditional diesel, but it could potentially be used as a fuel on its own. The e-diesel is claimed to be sulfur-free and cleaner-burning than standard diesel. The first five liters went into the tank of an Audi A8 3.0 TDI driven by Germany’s Minister of Research.
Audi and Sunfire claim that the process to make e-diesel is 70 percent efficient. They estimate that once production is ramped up, the cost to consumers in Europe would be comparable to traditional diesel, at 1.00 to 1.50 euro per liter (approximately $4.00 to $6.00 per gallon).