Audi Makes Synthetic Gasoline Using Zero Petroleum
Researchers at Audi have managed to do something that at first blush sounds impossible, or at least, highly illogical: They've created a small batch of synthetic gasoline without using any petroleum whatsoever. And they're working to tweak the process so they can create the fuel using nothing but water, hydrogen, sunlight, and carbon dioxide.
Audi's "e-benzin" is a fully synthetic 100-octane gasoline equivalent. Since it's synthetic, it contains no sulfur or benzene, making it extremely clean-burning. With its research partner Gloabl Bioenergies, Audi has figured out how to create the synthetic fuel from biomass, or plant material, making the fuel carbon-neutral.
An Audi spokesperson tells us that, as of right now, the experiment has only produced a small amount of the fuel—think liters, not tanker trucks—and the next step is to test its performance in internal combustion engines in a lab setting. It's a line of experimentation that Audi has been particularly focused on, having recently figured out how to synthesize diesel fuel from water and CO2 and operating a production facility that makes synthetic methane out of water, hydrogen, and CO2 to fuel the CNG-powered A3 Sportback g-tron.
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The next step in the synthetic gasoline project is to figure out how to eliminate the biomass requirement entirely, the goal being to produce e-benzin from water, hydrogen, CO2, and solar-derived power. That, and maybe figure out how to produce it in quantities that will give old-fashioned dinosaur-derived gasoline some legitimate supply competition.
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