Audi Opens First egas Synthetic Fuel Production Facility The Auto News List

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Audi e-gas

The Auto News List

June 26, 2013, 1:01 pm

Audi Opens First e-gas Synthetic Fuel Production Facility


Audi s e-gas production facility in Werlte, Germany.

We aren t chemistry majors, but stick with us, as this is awfully interesting: Audi has opened a power-to-gas facility that is a practical shot at sustainability. It s a two-step process that starts with electrolysis, using surplus green electricity to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen. If hydrogen-powered cars were more readily available, that process might be sustainable enough. But that s a while off, so Audi s moved on to the second step: methanation. This involves reacting the hydrogen with CO2 to create synthetic methane, which is virtually the same as good old CH4, the main component of compressed natural gas (CNG).

Audi calls this e-gas, and it can be sold through the current infrastructure of Germany s CNG stations.

You re probably thinking to yourself, I bet Audi has just the car to use this e-gas, and you d be right. The A3 Sportback g-tron has a 1.4-liter turbo four that is just as happy running on e-gas (or any CNG, for that matter) as it is on gasoline. Fill both tanks and when the e-gas runs out after around 250 miles, the car automatically switches to gasoline for another 560 miles of range.

Just try realizing the entire 810 miles without a bathroom break.

Audi says that driving the g-tron with e-gas is climate neutral, as the CO2 created when driving was previously bound when the e-gas was produced. The process of menthanation, step two of the e-gas production process, chemically binds roughly the same amount of CO2 in a year that would be absorbed by 220,000 beech trees in the same time. Outside of the emission of previously existing CO2, the only byproducts of the entire process are water and oxygen.

Although the U.S. has a stunning amount of natural gas in the ground, don t be heading to your local Audi dealer to buy an A3 Sportback g-tron, as the four-rings brand has no plans to import the car stateside. According to the automaker, there are just 1218 CNG fueling stations in our country, and just 560 of those are open to the general public.

And Audi s not confined itself to just its e-gas program; it has a research facility in Hobbs, New Mexico, that it s using to develop high-purity fuels from yucky stuff like brackish and waste waters. This would create fuels such as e-ethanol and e-diesel, which is e-impressive. E-gads.

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