Audi announces new e-fuel project that produces diesel fuel from water, CO2 and green electricity

Article by Christian A., on November 18, 2014

Audi and project partners Climeworks and sunfire have opened a pilot plant in Dresden that produces diesel fuel from water, carbon dioxide and green electricity. The project allows Audi, Climeworks and sunfire to show that industrialization of e fuels is possible.

The opening of the pilot plant was graced by Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister for Education and Research; and Hagen Seifert, Head of Environmental Assessments, Renewable Energies and New Materials at Audi.

The sunfire plant operates according to the power-to-liquid principle and needs carbon dioxide, water and electricity as raw materials. Using the direct air capturing technology developed by Climeworks, the plant extracts carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air.

In another process, an electrolysis unit -- powered by green electricity -- splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then reacted with the carbon dioxide in two chemical processes conducted at 220 degrees Celsius and a pressure of 25 bar to produce an energetic liquid called Blue Crude.

The pilot plant in Dresden-Reick can produce around 160 liters of Blue Crude daily, almost 80 percent of which can be converted into synthetic diesel called Audi e-diesel that is free of sulfur and aromatics.

Since Audi e-diesel has high cetane content, it ignites very easily. Likewise, the e-diesel’s chemical properties enable blending in any ratio with fossil diesel. The project is funded partly by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research with Audi being the exclusive partner in the auto industry.

Based in Zwickau, Germany, Audi is engaged in designing, engineering, production, marketing and distribution of luxury vehicles as part of the Volkswagen Group. The roots of Audi can be traced back to a number of companies. Two of these -- Wanderer and NSU – were founded in 1895. Audi’s roots is also traceable to August Horch and the companies he founded, such as A. Horch & Cie, August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke, August Horch Automobilwerke, Audi Automobilwerke, Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (DKW), Auto Union.

In 1964, Volkswagen purchased a 50-percent stake in the company. Around 18 months later, Volkswagen took complete control of the company. Volkswagen effectively dumped the DKW brand and sold the face-lifted DKW F102 as Audi. Audi’s resurrection was completed when the Audi 100 was approved for production and launched in 1968.

In 1969, Auto Union merged with NSU, thereby becoming Audi NSU Auto Union AG. Audi is starting to emerge as a separate brand. In 1985, the Auto Union and NSU brands were effectively dead. The company's official name was then shortened to Audi AG.

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