Virgin Earth Challenge Audi backs Direct Air Capture on the …

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Audi e-gas

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Wednesday, January 15,

Audi backs Direct Air on the road to zero-carbon fuels

In an milestone for Direct Air Capture systems, Audi has recently that it is teaming up with VEC Climeworks in their quest for the first carbon-neutral synthetic The ambitious Audi e-gas reacts hydrogen produced renewale energy with CO 2 to synthetic methane, or e-gas. is used as high-performance fuel in engines. Through their with Climeworks, they may be sourcing that CO 2 straight the air.

Credit: Audi 1/2014

Climeworks’ technology on chemical sorbents bound to a cellulose matrix that “stick” to dilute CO 2 molecules in air as it passes through. When the are fully loaded with CO 2 . are heated to around 95 degrees until they release the gas in a concentrated stream that is than 99% pure. Capture of CO 2 air has in the past been questioned energy requirements, but Climeworks’ design aims to use waste to meet most of these potentially allowing air capture to on other industrial processes at the plant. Once the CO 2 is captured, it be combined with hydrogen Audi produce from by electrolysis with renewable to make synthetic methane that have a near-zero footprint .

Climeworks has been successfully a demonstration plant producing 4kg of CO 2 per day for the last twelve months. credit: Audi Encounter

People may ask why are Audi so interested in Air Capture technology to produce CO 2 . Why not use CO 2 captured from power or, as is currently the case, produced local biogas plants? Dr Seifert, Audi’s officer for footprint, future materials and energies, explained that DAC CO 2 can important advantages both in of its carbon footprint and its economics. CO 2 captured from fossil combustion, DAC-CO 2 forms a “closed circuit” with combustion.

Capturing fossil CO 2 only to it to another fuel only its release into the atmosphere, but fuels made from 2 are burned, it forms a closed cycle between the fuel and the air that leaves fossil in the ground. On top of that, CO 2 in the atmosphere is everywhere, so Audi can locate plants wherever they without the need for expensive CO 2 from the nearest power

The Climeworks team

The chemical of CO 2 from the atmosphere is not the only potentially scalable and sustainable gas removal option. Many activities and several of our finalists with the ways of taking out of the air that nature has researched and for itself; namely photosynthetic However, biomass can have its own Bioenergy and biofuels have under fire recently for a of reasons, not least of which is the that they can be far from neutral if not sustainably sourced.

Growing biomass also up a lot of land, and it must be harvested and to centralised points for use.

Audi e-gas

fuels offer a vital route to developing and commercialising DAC

DAC systems and other sources of CO 2 should not be considered rivals, The world is a very diverse and it will be more a case of which systems work in each real world (this may also apply considering renewable hydrocarbons electric powertrains !). For the Audi however, an on-site DAC plant help avoid the problems of upstream biomass resources.

And as Dr Seifert explained, installing own DAC system could also the way for Audi making e-gas on larger scales, as they no longer be limited by the modest supply of biogas-derived CO 2 . And, as VEC saw at CO 2 utilisation conferences last such as the one run by the German Nova there are further processes of converting syngas into complex hydrocarbons, from ether. to gasoline. and even jet and rocket propellant!

The Audi A3 designed to run on carbon-neutral synthetic Credit: Audi Encounter

Of course, turning captured CO 2 fuels doesn’t qualify as Gas Removal (GGR) as the CO 2 is re-released to the as soon as the fuel is burned in a the process will be carbon-neutral at However, synthetic fuels a vital early route to and commercialising DAC technology in the absence of a carbon price and climate that appropriately contextualise and Greenhouse Gas Removal as well as The synthetic methane produced also be used as a valuable block for a new generation of carbon-negative which can be more properly GGR.

The commercial success of Audi’s fuels using DAC systems also be a resounding demonstration the unique advantages of Direct Air can give it a serious role to in the future of our energy system.


is why, even though the partnership and the technology itself are at an stage, this announcement is a exciting moment for Direct Air as a whole. It is a great sign for the of the technology that such a player in the automotive industry has the value and commercial potential DAC systems can provide, and has stepped up to to drive this emerging forwards.

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