Audi ties up with energy companies for synthetic fuel research

Audi, Ineratec, Energiedienst, to produce e-diesel in 2018

Audi has partnered with Ineratec GmbH and Energiedienst Holding AG to produce new pilot facility for the production of e-diesel in Laufenburg, Switzerland. The hydropower planned facility will have a capacity of around 400,000 liters (105,669 US gal) per year.

For some years now, Audi has been conducting research into climate-friendly, CO2-based fuels such as e-gas, e-gasoline or synthetically manufactured e-diesel fuel. The company is now taking the next step in e-diesel production.

“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. 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,” explained Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at Audi AG.

To produce the e-diesel, the power-to-liquid plant converts surplus hydropower into synthetic fuel. A chemical principle is applied: The green power generated on site in the hydroelectric power station produces hydrogen and oxygen from water by means of electrolysis. In the next step the hydrogen reacts with CO2, using an innovative and very compact micro-process technology. The CO2 can be obtained from the atmosphere or from biogenous waste gases and, as with all Audi e-fuels, is the only source of carbon. Long-chain hydrocarbon compounds are formed. In the final process step these are separated into the end products Audi e-diesel and also waxes, which are put to use in other areas of industry.

The three companies will start the construction of the plant, and will produce the first quantities of e-diesel next year, and Audi’s project partners Ineratec and Energiedienst AG will submit the planning application for the facility in the coming weeks.

The e-diesel plant project is now Audi’s second partnership in a pilot facility that operates according to the power-to-liquid principle. Other Audi e-fuel projects include its own power-to-gas facility in Werlte, north Germany, which makes Audi e-gas – in other words synthetic methane – for the G-Tron models A3, A4 and A5. The Ingolstadt carmaker is also researching the manufacture of e-gasoline together with specialist partners.