Diesel from Water & Air? Plus, 3 More Fuels for the Future
by Ed Scott
Photo by Craig Piersma / (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
H20 + Co2 = Blue Crude
With Elon Musk’s success in building electric sports cars, other companies are daring to believe in alternatives to fossil fuel powered engines. German car producer, Audi, has recently pioneered a carbon-neutral technology, which hopes to change the motor fuel landscape, as well as reduce carbon emissions for our planet. This clear e-diesel is made with a combination of carbon dioxide and water, and it’s currently being used by German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, to power her Audi!
Although there are many sustainable technologies out there, hoping to upstage fossil fuels, “blue crude” is backed by a big motor company, which makes this product all the more exciting. Audi has set-up a pilot plant in Dresden, which is aiming to create 160 litres of this synthetic diesel per day. Of course, this is nowhere near enough to compete against the fossil fuel market at the moment, but it is still early days, and Audi are looking to expand their blue crude production in the future.
But How Does It Work?
Blue crude is created by harnessing energy from renewable sources (wind and solar) to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen. The hydrogen separated from this is then combined with carbon monoxide (created from carbon dioxide) to make long chain hydrocarbon compounds. After the refining process takes place, the resulting blue crude can be mixed in with diesel sources or just used alone to power cars efficiently and to help reduce fossil fuel emissions.
The Benefits of Blue Crude
First of all, engines that run on blue crude are quieter (always nice) and are 70% more efficient. Prices are predicted to be much lower than diesel, at between 1-1.50 euros per litre. It’s also much better for the environment, of course, and provides a sustainable option that isn’t going to run out anytime soon.
Other Fuels of The Future
Excitingly, blue crude isn’t the only renewable energy option for motorists. Sustainable power technology has been around for quite a while and is becoming more sophisticated by the day. So, what else is out there? Here are just some of the emerging eco-companies that are shaking the motor power market.
Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife / (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sapphire Energy has taken 300 acres of Mexican desert and transformed it into the largest algae farm in the world. This spongy, green substance is pretty amazing, and is used – in this case – to produce crude oil; 100 barrels a day, in fact.
In order to create crude oil, all that the scientists at this farm require is algae, CO2, water, and sunlight (there is plenty of the latter in Mexican desert land). Sapphire Energy has actually used their algae power to fuel commercial planes already.
However, even the founders of this company admit that algae energy isn’t ready to take over fossil fuel yet – it could take almost a decade of further research and development to get this properly off the ground, and the setup of many more algae farms to help meet production demand.
Photo by Zero Emission Resource / (CC BY 2.0)
It’s likely that you have heard of hydrogen-powered cars. Motor giants Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai all have their own hydrogen models, so the technology is already there.
Hydrogen power only emits water, and you can fill your tank in less than 3 minutes (which can be a huge plus, when you consider the fact that electric cars can take around 3 hours to charge).
However, hydrogen refill stations are still few and far between, meaning that you’ll struggle to get your car out on the road. The U.S. is trying to change this at the moment, by investing $200 million in more hook-ups by 2020. The car’s battery only kicks in for ignition and acceleration, which leaves the rest up to hydrogen power.
Photo by El Monty / (CC BY-SA)
Two French engineers, working for PSA Peugeot Citroen, are aiming to make air powered cars a viable option in the future, through the use of a gasoline engine and hydraulics. The car would switch between gas and air power, and during an average driving trip, 60%-80% of the journey would be powered by air, while the gas would take care of the rest, so you can receive the extra boost that your car needs.
These advancements in alternative fuels are exciting for so many reasons, not least because of the harmful effects petrol and gas are having on the environment. We’ll be watching this space for more amazing developments from innovative companies like Audi.
Would you be interested in blue crude, algae, hydrogen, or air powered car? Let us know in the comments below!
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