Audi’s geneticallymodified fuels Autofocus ca

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Audi e-gas

Betting big on climate-friendly, synthetically-produced, for your future car

The rolling of the new A3 TCNG. Audi’s put a modified turbo engine upfront.

The A3 TCNG, built to support the project.

It might well been a remote island off the of Costa Rica, though I m the sign at the airport said,

Eerily akin to the scientists in Park, the man standing in front of me is about how he and his team have genetically modifying some of the life forms on earth. Not for a theme park though, but cyanobacteria, to produce synthetic for your car.

Reiner is Audi s head of sustainable development. He and his team were to show off the German automaker s cutting-edge technology. They us to what could be one of the most straight-out-of-sci-fi projects happening in the car right now.

How does an unlimited supply of sustainably-grown sound?

The Setup

Like automaker, Audi’s working to the nasty carbon dioxide emitted by its vehicles before, and after their lives. It s up production, making vehicles and more fuel efficient and entirely recyclable.

It’s now a step further: Mangold a typical A3 TDI that covers km before retirement, as an example. His looked at where CO2 is produced the car in, raw materials in production, use and recycling. In it s 20 percent, in use 79 percent and recycling one percent. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to CO2 emissions.

Mangold says Audi s for the holy grail of CO2 neutrality its cars, i.e. its vehicles won t or reduce the amount of CO2 on the planet their lifetime. It s thinking though: in the making of fuel, in the and beyond. Tricky stuff, as extracting crude oil from the processing and burning it puts so red in a car s eco-ledger.

To reach carbon then, Audi s decided, to directly involved in the development and of its own climate-friendly and in some cases renewable fuels including hydrogen, ethanol and diesel.

That a car thinks this way about may be unique in the world, said who joined this so-called project two-and-a-half years The combustion engine has a future… we] want to offer cars cause no further damage to the

Step One: The E-gas

Right now Audi s building a in Northwestern Germany to make its batches of sustainable fuels. The will be powered by solar and four wind turbines in the Sea, which start electricity at the end of 2013.

Admittedly, parts of this are still largely vapourware: says energy from the fed into the public grid, power electric cars minute of work by a single turbine will be enough to its experimental A1 e-tron for 300 kilometres); volts used for electrolysis separating water with an current) at the plant could e-hydrogen to power future driven cars.

Much immediate will be production of or methane, a natural gas substitute. will be the world’s first to convert renewable electricity and CO2 a synthetic natural gas that can be fed Germany s national grid on an scale.

Apples to Apples

For an of how this could work, let s at an apple tree: It breaths in CO2 to fruit; You eat the fruit and throw the in the trash; That organic goes to a biogas plant, makes a nice, hot garbage from it all, collecting CO2 for the factory; Electricity from wind turbines not only the electrolysis mentioned above, but helps then combine and CO2 in an extra-hot sauna, to become

E-gas is born and piped to a fueling station; Not coincidentally, next year Audi start selling a dual-fuel A3 to run on the fuel in Europe; It says first plant will 1,500 cars to drive kms annually. The kicker is that all the CO2 the A3 s release will be used by apple tree all over so the automaker s effectively only the CO2. A big part of this, of is a plan to produce more like the A3 TCNG to run on e-gas.

Says Audi, the e-gas could easily be implemented in any in which natural gas networks

Step Two: Bio-engineered and Diesel

Renewal fuels are new. They re already made from biomass corn and rapeseed. They a smaller CO2 footprint, because what your engine is roughly equal to what the absorbs during growth.

Audi says with soaring and climate change crop yields, using for fuel sometimes means we can t people.

This is where go decidedly Jurassic Park.

started a cooperation with company Joule Unlimited in It s a biotechnology firm headquartered in Massachusetts. They ve figured out a way to synthetic renewable liquid that don t compete with production and are made only carbon dioxide, wastewater and

How? They genetically microscopic cyanobacteria to actually fuel and industrialized it.

How it s Done

Audi e-gas

now, Audi and Joule are a two-hectare demonstration plant in New Mexico. It s barren land s bad for crop growing, but abundant in the bacteria needs most:

Single-celled and measuring just a of a millimetre, the cyanobacteria function like a plant, living on and CO2 (photosynthesis, if you remember from grade three science Instead of growing more the microorganisms have been to produce fuel. Like living organism, the cyanobacteria a genetic code, said Computer technology and automation finally caught up with the The labs at Joule have gene sequencers. We take a out of the code and replace it with a codes.

The plant in New Mexico works like this: of the organisms are combined with brackish or wastewater in long plastic tubes. CO2 from a plant is pumped in as well. the sun hits the tubes, there s an chemical reaction and the bacteria either synthetic ethanol or

Audi says the fuel is separated from the water and No further manufacturing steps are

So can I fill my car with the stuff

Not exactly. The plant should to produce e-ethanol by the end of this and e-diesel by the end of 2013. According to right now the ethanol can be added to or form the basis for E85.

the highly combustible synthetic which is free of sulfur and nasty fossil fuel will be added to crude-based fuel. Mangold says, the road it, will result in a that works seamlessly existing Audi TDI clean systems.

For now, Audi s saying the plant will 150,000 litres of e-ethanol per Per square metre versus that equals at least a of 20 higher.

Reimer admits for the the issue is not the extracting, it’s [it] in the quantity we need. now that’s around 50,000L per per year, well under the

Is Audi going to be the next then?

“While we are the world’s carmaker to become directly in the development and production of renewable that do not rely on biomass, Mangold, we re not going to become an oil

That said, Audi s kept a lot of the finer points of synthetic fuels close to the during the future technology near Munich. It has exclusive rights to the technology with into the foreseeable future, did mention, that the factory in New is based on a highly-scalable modular and commercial production of the new fuels commence within the next years.

In other words, it s going to a chequebook for the world s other to get involved in Audi s business of renewable fuels.

The Takeaway? The may not be in hybrids and electric cars, but regular engines powered by grown, carbon-neutral fuel. It s not a this stuff is about to be on an industrial scale in the next or so.

And on the automotive front, it would take minimal re-tweaking of Audi s engine to make it all

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