Working with Sunfire, a German clean tech company and Audi partner, the car manufacturer has made one of the biggest discoveries of the new century. Using a special “power to liquid” process, it has been found that from water you can get diesel fuel. This e-diesel has less impact on our environment, but it does come at a higher cost.

Turning Water into Gas

The process that turns water into gas uses carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. This gas comes in part from fossil fuels and is a contributor to global warming. By capturing it in the air through vaporization, it can be made into a carbon neutral fuel.

Using a green energy source like solar or wind, water is heated to a vapor at temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. This breaks it down it into hydrogen the oxygen. The hydrogen is then mixed with carbon dioxide under high pressure, which results in a blue crude. That crude can be refined into a fuel, just like crude fossil oil is refined into gasoline.

Using Carbon Dioxide as a raw material is seen as being a key component in protecting our environment. German Education and Research minister Johanna Wanka, one of the first to try the fuel out in her own car (an Audi A8), has declared the project successful. The only trouble is, the price.

The processes involved in separating the oxygen and hydrogen is costly, and the resulting fuel product priced at approximately double the normal price for fuel in Germany. Still, this is a small price to pay for those who are environmentally conscious. It can also be mixed with conventional diesel fuel, which would turn it to a competitively priced biodiesel.

There is no Sulphur or other contaminants inside of the e-diesel, giving it even more juice in terms of being better for our planet. Car owners will find that their engine is able to run quieter with e-diesel, yet put out less pollutants into the air.

Sunfire, the company in charge of Audi’s e-diesel efforts, has the ability to make about 42 gallons of the gas each day. Carbon dioxide is being supplied by biogas facilities, some of which has been captured directly from our breathing air. 42 gallons is just a few trips around the block compared to the demand of fuel, but once Audi is able to commercialize the e-diesel larger facilities will be able to make it more readily available.

The wave of the automotive future is to create cars that are stunning to look at, incredible to drive, and easy on the planet. Audi has mastered the first two with aplomb, and between their synthetic diesel and electric car efforts, will bring us into the future with environmentally friendly vehicles.