Global challenges often require complex solutions. The sustainable layout of our power supply may be one of the biggest duties the world is facing today. Experts agree that holistically only a mixture of different renewable forms and sources of energy will put the world populations energy supply on solid ground while meeting the requirements of climate protection. e-fuels have the potential to contribute a major part to the future energy mix.
But what are e-fuels exactly? How are e-fuels produced and how are they working? When can an e-fuel be considered carbon neutral? Are e-fuels compatible with all internal combustion engines and can they be distributed via the existing fuel stations? eFUEL-TODAY is the place to go on the internet to get all the relevant answers around the topic of synthetic fuels.
What are e-fuels?
E-fuels are synthetically produced fuels using energy from sustainable sources. Explained in simplified form: hydrogen produced by using renewable energy is put together with carbon dioxide captured from the air or from industrial complexes to gaseous or liquid hydrocarbon which is the basic element of fuel. These e-fuels can be considered carbon neutral because the combustion releases the same amount of CO2 that was captured from the air before.
Thus no additional carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere while using an e-fuel. Regarding the production process of e-fuels three different methods are established by now: Power-to-X (PtX), Power-to-Liquid (PtL) and Biomass-to-Liquid (BtL). Considering these three different processes e-fuels can be divided into three main categories. Compared with conventional biofuels the production process of e-fuels doesn’t compete with the food production at all.
What do we need e-fuels for?
E-fuels have the ability to become a substantial component of a sustainable power supply. Above all one of the most significant reasons for e-fuels is that not only the existing cars but also the already established infrastructure of production, supply and storage of energy can be used. Besides that a liquid source of energy still is the easiest and lossless way to store energy over a longer period of time or to transport it over long distances.
In the aviation or shipping industry e-fuels offer an unrivaled perspective for carbon neutral transportation since electric motors underly certain technical and physical limitations. Experts agree that we can only achieve our climate targets using a sustainable mix of sources of energy. As a substantial part of that we need e-fuels.
How are e-fuels produced?
The production process of e-fuels is quite simple. In general e-fuels are made out of water and carbon dioxide and no fossil oil is required. During the production process the chemical molecules of fossil crude oil are simply reproduced in the lab. The result is a synthetic crude oil substitute that can afterwards be processed to common diesel or petrol fuels.
There are several different procedures to make e-fuels. At first the production of e-fuels requires hydrogen which is gained through electrolysis from water. In order to produce green hydrogen only renewable sources of energy (such as wind or solar energy) are used in this process. A common method to produce e-fuels is called the Fischer-Tropsch-synthesis. In this process hydrogen is chemically connected to carbon (gained from carbon dioxide) and synthesized to a liquid fuel. Besides that there is another method called methanation. There are different ways to produce either synthetic diesel, jet fuel or petrol components. The illustration shows that in a schematic way:
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The energy transition can hardly be implemented without synthetic fuels. To ensure that e-fuels receive even more attention in the future, eFUEL-TODAY has now started the largest european petition for e-fuels!
When can I buy e-fuels at my local gas station?
The industry is ready and several smaller production plants are already booting up. If the market ramp-up is successful the first products will eventually be available this year but for sure during 2023. Of course eFUEL-TODAY will be your trusted source of informations on the latest developments in die field and if e-fuels are available somewhere we will be one of the first to tell.
Are e-fuels compatible with all cars or motorbikes with an internal combustion engine?
E-fuels are produced synthetically and they are tailor-made to the specific area of application. Producers of e-fuel describe these new generation of fuels as a crude oil substitute which is processed as usual in the refinery process and blended with additives afterwards to be used in all diesel or petrol engines. Thus there is no limitation when it comes to the use in already existing vehicles.
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