16 Sep
Could traditional fuel manufacturing be usurped by more sustainable solutions?

Out of thin air: Is e-diesel set to go mainstream?

Producing a fuel product and reducing emissions at the same time may sound like a contradiction of terms. After all, while the biggest players in the fuel industry have tried to make their operations as clean and efficient as possible, many still rely on the burning of fossil fuels.

However, there are a few innovative companies looking to break this trend, by literally making fuel out of thin air.

German outfit Sunfire has been developing a system that can create diesel from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The process uses a complex mix of electrical energy, water and the gas.

Its management of power is partially what sets the endeavour apart because the use of renewable energy effectively makes the whole process carbon neutral, according to the BBC.

Industry backing

As a sign of how influential the advance could be, big automotive industry player Audi has shown its support. The German marque has actually been exploring the world of e-fuels for some time and is consistently looking at ways to boost the fuel efficiency of its offerings.

However, the company noted that many of the existing alternative fuels, made from rapeseed or maize, compete with the agricultural industry for their raw materials. Consequently, they've failed to gain any significant traction. 

Audi and Sunfire first managed to produce samples of the innovative e-diesel back in April, with the aim of the project now to get a bigger factory built and producing the fuel. 

"If we get the first sales order, we will be ready to commercialise our technology," explained Sunfire chief technology officer Christian von Olshausen, as quoted by Gizmag.

Performance benefits

Alongside having a positive impact on the environment, Sunfire and Audi believe that the fuel will also boost vehicle performance. This is because e-diesel is effectively a purer product than its traditional peers, enabling engines to run quieter at the front while fewer pollutants come out of the exhaust at the back.

Naturally, this should be duly noted by fleet managers. Not only may e-diesel allow their vehicles to run more efficiently, making any fuel card purchases even more valuable, but the whole fleet could be a touch kinder to the environment, too.

There can be little denying that the way in which the world currently produces fossil fuels is unsustainable in the long term. Fortunately, through the use of innovative technology and some lateral thinking, it appears that those in the industry are making big steps forward in the hunt for more effective, sustainable fuels.