Audi makes synthetic diesel again, this time from plants

Car makers are on a quest to develop more sustainable and more environment friendly sources of power for the cars of the future. Some have, at least for the time being, resorted to using electricity instead of conventional fuel. However, even electricity has its own eco footprint. And some car makers haven't entirely given up on the advantages of fuel. That is why companies like Audi are also investing in research and development that will produce fuel using nothing but carbon dioxide or, in this case, plants.

Well, not plants per se, but technically biomass sugars, like glucose extracted from corn. These are fermented to produce gaseous isobutane which is a raw material used in many applications, including fuel. The gaseous isobutane is processed into liquid form under pressure to be converted into isooctane fuel, which, in turn, can be used to create pure, 100 octane gasoline to power cars.

This amazing feat was accomplished by Global Bioenergies in France, one of Audi's partners in solving one of the biggest problems facing the car industry today: moving away from oil-based fuel. "e-benzin", as Audi calls it, is not only advertised to be clean because of the absence of sulfur and benzene in its composition, it also, in theory, can use higher compression ratio because of its own high grade quality.

Of course, that theory still has to be tested by Audi, who will be doing so on lab engines before actually testing the fuel out on fleets. Once proven to be effective, Audi plans to build a new demo plant in Germany 10 times larger than the French plant and one that can produce produce 100 tons of isooctane and high purity isobutane per year starting as early as next year.

In the future, Audi hopes to remove even the use of biomass, which of course has its own negative effects on plant ecology. Ideally, the next generation fuel can be created using nothing but water, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and sunlight like in its accomplishment last month, all of which, except water, are extremely common and renewable resources.

VIA: Gizmag