Audi to start making diesel from water in 2018

e-diesel from new Swiss facility an integral part of Audi fuels strategy

Published: November 9, 2017, 2:30 AM
Updated: November 13, 2017, 5:28 AM

Audi 3-litre TDI V-6

Audi Q7 2008 diesel

Looks like the stories of diesel’s demise may be premature, if Audi has any say in the matter.

The German company is partnering with Ineratec GmbH and Energiedienst Holding AG on a pilot facility in Switzerland to develop and produce synthetic diesel, to an expected capacity of 400,000 litres per year.

And to address sustainability, Audi is using hydropower to supply energy to produce the synthetic crude called blue crude, which is created from carbon dioxide and water and is then refined into the carbon-neutral e-diesel.

Audi power-to-liquid ingredients

“At the project in Laufenburg, thanks to a new technology, we are able to handle the production of e-diesel efficiently in compact units, making it more economical,” explained Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG. “The pilot facility offers scope for sector coupling – in other words combining the energy sectors power, heat and mobility — and makes it possible to store renewable energy.”

The e-diesel produced at Laufenburg, Switzerland is an integral part in Audi’s fuels strategy, and the company is also researching e-gas and e-gasoline. The Audi e-diesel has the potential to allow internal combustion engines to operate nearly CO2-neutrally. The electricity generated by hydropower separates the hydrogen and oxygen in the water through electrolysis, with the hydrogen reacting with CO2 in a chemical microprocess to form long-chain hydrocarbons that are then separated into e-diesel and waxes (which are used for other industry processes).

diesel pump

This is neither Audi’s first venture into producing e-diesel, having partnered with energy corporation Sunfire in Dresden, Germany, on a different process since 2014, nor its first venture into power-to-liquid development, operating a facility producing e-gas (synthetic methane) in Werlte, Germany, and beginning research into e-gasoline with other partners.

The partners expect to produce the first quantities of e-diesel at Laufenburg in 2018, at the earliest, though the facility still has to be built (construction is scheduled to begin early in 2018).