Watch out oil barons, Audi recently announced it has invented a new diesel fuel that could revolutionize the automobile industry and dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Even more remarkable, the synthetic ‘e-diesel’ is made with water, CO2 and electricity derived from renewable sources of energy. Run by a company called sunfire, whose tagline is ‘closing the carbon cycle’, a new pilot plant in Dresden churned out its first 42 gallons of CO2-neutral fuel. The ‘blue crude’ has successfully powered an Audi 8 belonging to Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka. Curious? Hit the jump for more details and a video.


Science Alert outlines the the three-step fuel production process, which first relies on producing clean energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower. The derivative electricity is used to perform reversible electrolysis, or to split water into its constituent parts–oxygen and hydrogen.

The resulting hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide made from CO2 taken from the atmosphere. This mixture reacts at high temperatures and under pressure to produce long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up the clean diesel. And once it is refined, the blue crude can be mixed with existing diesel or used alone to power cars without producing carbon emissions. But wait. There’s more.

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Not only is Audi’s blue crude free of sulphur and fossil fuels, but it is also said to perform better than conventional diesel fuel. Christan von Olshausen, sunfire chief technology officer, says in a press release, “The engine runs quieter and fewer pollutants are being created.”

While producing 42 gallons of clean crude a day will not save the world, sunfire plans to build a bigger plant and take their fuel to market. The company expects to sell the new diesel at prices that compete with or maybe even outcompete conventional diesel for the equivalent of up to $6.5 per gallon. This number would cause heart attacks in the U.S., but it is comparable to current prices for dirty diesel fuel in Europe.

“If we get the first sales order, we will be ready to commercialize our technology,” von Olshausen says. In the US, the transportation sector alone accounts for 30 percent of emissions contributing to global warming, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Replacing all that dirty fuel with clean fuel would make a measurable difference, and make it increasingly difficult for the oil industry to justify its existence.

Via Science Alert

Images via Audi