Electric cars are becoming more and more popular. Furthermore, they are becoming more affordable as most major automotive companies are now offering several models of electric cars in their range. However, they are still way more expensive than conventional cars with internal combustion engines. That is one of the reasons why Audi is pursuing seemingly unnecessary goal – e-benzin.
Audi is very enthusiastic about synthetic fuel. It is already producing e-diesel and e-benzin (e-gasoline) should be the one to follow. It did take some time, but now Audi and its partners have finally reached an important milestone – they produced 60 litters of this fuel, which is enough to start some actual engine testing. E-benzin is produces in a two-step process. At first, gaseous isobutene (C4H8) is produced and then in the second step it is transformed into isooctane (C8H18), using additional hydrogen. Biomass is currently used for production, but Audi is looking into improving the production process to avoid using biomass. In the future, hydrogen and CO2 should be enough and only renewable sources should be used.
E-benzin, like other e-fuels, has a load of advantages. It doesn’t have sulphur and benzene and thus emits very little pollutants when it burns. Furthermore, it is very pure and has very good anti-knock properties, allowing to further increase engine compression and thus boost the efficiency. All in all, it results in a cleaner drive using the existing technology and infrastructure. It is basically win-win situation, because no new cars have to be manufactured to benefit from this clean energy. And the carbon cycle is closed – biomass has already absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, which then is released again during the combustion process. And then there is the ease of use – it is so simple to fill up a tank with normal petrol. And no range anxiety. No lengthy charging times.
Audi has been working on making conventional cars more green for quite some time. For example, it owns power-to-gas plant in Werlte, which manufactures environmentally friendly gas, which could be used to power cars. Instead, Audi cars with g-tron technology fill up in normal petrol stations and the amount they use is released by Audi into the mains. This makes cars a lot more environmentally friendly. E-diesel is another step forward. Plants use renewable energy, water and CO2 to produce what is called Blue Crude, which is later refined into Audi e‑diesel. A new e-diesel plant in Switzerland will use hydroelectric power as a sole energy source to produce around 400,000 litters of Audi e-diesel per year.
Now engineers will have to test e-benzin to see how it performs in a real engine. Hopefully, it will prove successful and will not reduce car’s reliability. It would stretch the amount of time we still have with awesome ICE-powered cars.