Audi continues to try to build its green-car cred with one more partnership to produce synthetic fuels made from renewable resources. The German automaker is hooking up with France-based Global Bioenergies to make a synthetic biofuel called e-gasoline. Audi says making this e-gas "does not create competition with food production and farmland," nipping that argument in the bud.

Last summer, Audi opened a power-to-gas facility in Werlte, Germany. That factory produces hydrogen and synthetic methane, which are made from renewable energy sources such as water and excess carbon dioxide. The E-gas plant uses electrolysis to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen; those elements will later be set aside to power fuel-cell vehicles but in the near term, the plant will make synthetic natural gas. Audi started delivering e-gas in Germany in the fall of 2013 and estimated that it would make enough of the stuff each year to power 1,500 Audi A3 Sportback G-tron vehicles for more than 9,000 miles.

Audi also operates a research facility in Hobbs, New Mexico, with renewable fuel company Joule. That plant produces e-ethanol and e-diesel. Check out Audi's press release about its new Global Bioenergies partnership below.
Show full PR text
Audi launches strategic partnership with Global Bioenergies
  • Premium carmaker and biotechnology company developing the drop-in biofuel Audi e-gasoline
  • Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development: "Another step closer to carbon-neutral mobility with Global Bioenergies"
  • e-gasoline part of the big Audi e-fuels strategy
Audi is launching a strategic partnership with Global Bioenergies. The carmaker will work with the French biotechnology company to promote the development of non-fossil fuels. In addition to the Audi e-gas and e-diesel projects, the research into e-gasoline is part of Audi's persistent efforts to find alternative fuels.

Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG: "We're taking another step closer to carbon-neutral mobility with our partners at Global Bioenergies. We are supporting an innovative technology here which can be used to produce renewable fuel. This process does not create competition with food production and farmland."

e-gasoline is part of the overall Audi e-fuels strategy. Audi is already operating a research facility for the production of e-ethanol and e-diesel with its partner Joule in Hobbs, New Mexico. The Audi e-gas plant in Werlte began feeding into the grid a few months ago. Synthetically produced gas is used here to store electric surplus energy.

Thanks to its innovative powertrain technology, Audi also delivers low fuel consumption figures with its conventional drive systems. The company's model range currently includes 146 engine and transmission versions with CO₂ emissions of less than 140 grams per kilometer (225.31 g/mile); 62 engine and transmission versions are even under 120 grams CO2 per kilometer (193.12 g/mile). Eleven engine and transmission versions even emit only 100 grams of CO2 or less per kilometer (160.93 g/mile).


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 49 Comments
      Dave
      • 10 Months Ago
      "The E-gas plant uses electrolysis to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen; those elements will later be set aside to power fuel-cell vehicles but in the near term, the plant will make synthetic natural gas." This is a nifty way of avoiding the chicken and egg problem (at least partially) since hydrogen production can be built before there is demand for it. Of course, this is only production, not distribution.
      DaveMart
      • 10 Months Ago
      Its around 5-7% or so of the power in the gas. Charging a battery in the Leaf loses around 15%
      DaveMart
      • 10 Months Ago
      S/be: ' Germany does indeed dump surplus energy INTO THE WIDER GRID' The problems caused are horrific: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9205
      bluepongo1
      • 10 Months Ago
      Wow, I don't understand the " There can be only one !!! " B.S. ... use whatever tech you want , adults. For every tech problem someone is working on a tech solution & tech is neutral, it is only as good or bad as the user. You can compare everything to BEV's, but that just makes them the bench-mark ...so thanks. P.S. I'll just leave this here for BEV haters. ;-) >====> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg
      DaveMart
      • 10 Months Ago
      Sources for my charging figures (I used 15%): Leaf: http://www.plugincars.com/economy-efficiency-nissan-leaf-my-experience-after-3-months.html 80% efficient Tesla: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/archive/index.php/t-14198.html 85%, so I use that when giving charging efficiency, as it is the most conservative figure I could find Renault (Fr link) http://renault-zoe.forumpro.fr/t2269-il-y-a-de-l-energie-qui-se-perd 60-80% efficient. The 60% efficiency is for clunker Kangoos, so reckon on about 80% like the Leafs. I think I have been conservative in my use of figures for charging losses.
      DaveMart
      • 10 Months Ago
      Thanks for the figures which are probably near enough for compression, although a home compressor is unlikely to be as efficient as a commercial one, which is what Germany uses in its nearly 1,000 NG filling stations. You omit the generating and transmission costs of the electricity altogether, For the US your 2kwh at the wall before charging losses in the Leaf of around 15% needs about 3 times as much gross energy at the power station, so 6kw of thermal and electrical energy. At the moment, to the considerable ire of its neighbours, Germany does indeed dump surplus energy. However they can't go on doing that forever, and are well aware of that. Hence every plan for renewables there is based around overcoming the storage bottleneck. For an overview: http://blog.environmentalresearchweb.org/2014/01/04/germanys-green-energy/ Personally, I think the whole thing crazy, and since there is little danger of tsunami in Bavaria would simply build a lot of nuclear, which most conveniently power battery cars. However, their plan is to use renewables, and what can't be conveniently used immediately to store using mostly hydrogen and syngas, as those are the only storage mechanisms large enough to cope with seasonal variability.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 10 Months Ago
      Here's the question - does it make any economic sense? - IE what does the end product cost per BTU? Does it make any energy sense? - IE are you losing tons of energy here and there to the point where it can get ridiculous.. There are 999,999 ways to produce fuel, but only about a dozen that actually make any sense and are viable.
        DaveMart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        If you are going to go the heavy renewables route, then the fact is that no-one can figure out how to do it above a certain percentage of the grid WITHOUT doing it. It also re-uses some of those pesky CO2 emissions if you are going the syngas route, although if you are using fuel cell vehicles you can simply pump the hydrogen through the gas pipes and store it in salt caverns. Here is how they plan to do that in Germany: http://www.kbbnet.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Present-trends-in-compressed-air-energy-and-hydrogen-storage-in-Germany1.pdf Personally as I said below I would simply use nuclear, where the thermal waste doesn't matter as it involves so little CO2, but I am not in charge, so I look at what is practical with what they are doing. So long as the process heat is captured, hydrogen production by electrolysis is efficient enough, considering that that can actually make the energy available when it is really needed, and can use electricity which you would otherwise have to chuck away. Germany is going for a system they call Energiewende, like Japan, where fuel cells would be in homes balancing out the load from renewables. Any fuel cell can be run in reverse, and so the residential fuel cells could be used to put hydrogen into the grid when there is surplus wind or solar.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Based on the article DaveMart linked to below, it appears to make a great deal of sense, using very cheap renewable power (that might otherwise have been simply wasted) to replace expensive foreign oil imports. "But for example, given that surplus wind (and PV) electricity would be dumped otherwise, the power-to-gas idea may not prove as expensive as it first might seem and, as renewables expand, money will be saved by not having to import fossil gas. Crucially, capital and generation cost are falling." Likewise, there is the environmental benefit of replacing the carbon-rich imported fuels with carbon-neutral e-gas (hydrogen and synthetic methane).
        DaveMart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        BTW 2WM: Whilst I reckon that what the Germans are doing is pretty expensive and challenging, it is much less so for the US. The reason? More sunshine. The US is still far enough north though that there is a huge discrepancy between summer and winter sun. Hydrogen storage, so long as the process heat is used giving reasonable efficiency, is storage on a scale which can actually deal with this seasonal variation. Once you use the hydrogen in the winter, you use it to generate electricity in one way or another. It is more efficient to do that in an on-board fuel cell as the process heat going that way can be used too to heat the car.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        This article might be out of date, but it does provide a price estimate: "Audi's A3 Sportback g-tron was showcased for the second time at the Frankfurt motor show last month. The model uses less than 3.5kg of e-gas per 100km, with fuel costs in the ballpark of US$5.40 over the same distance range." http://globalenergyinitiative.org/technology/129-audi-ushers-in-new-generation-of-e-gas-sustainable-mobility.html About $1.54 per kg of e-gas.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 10 Months Ago
      There are certainly charging losses with BEVs. This commentator posted that he measured 36.3 kWh used by his EVSE, to consume 27kWh according to the Leaf's info. This was over two charging events, I am aware that the Leaf's battery is smaller than 27kWh. http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=8445 Many Leaf owners report about 85% efficiency when charging at 240V.
      JakeY
      • 10 Months Ago
      @DaveMart "The compression losses are irrelevant if, as you argue, there is no excess electricity to run the system on anyway." You are mixing up the two threads. This one is merely discussing how far you can travel on the electricity used to compress CNG to 3500 psi. This has nothing to do with excess electricity or storage. It basically assumes grid electricity (as the compressor or EVSE is connected to the grid via an electrical panel at your home). "This is a storage mechanism, and so it is not reasonable to compare it with a system which is not storing anything." We are talking about electricity use for compression here, not the efficiency of hydrogen or natural gas generation (which is the subject of the thread below this one). And on the subject of storage, I'm pretty sure the Leaf is actually storing things too (it has a battery after all).
      JakeY
      • 10 Months Ago
      @DaveMart The charging losses are already included in the 29kWh/100 miles EPA figure for the Leaf! The EPA test procedure uses the SAE J1634 procedure for testing, which measures AC electricity consumption at the EVSE, not DC electricity at the battery (which would not include charging losses). And the car also sits overnight before testing, so it includes "vampire" losses too. http://www.smidgeindustriesltd.com/leaf/EPA/EPA_test_procedure_for_EVs-PHEVs-1-13-2011.pdf http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2433 "You omit the generating and transmission costs of the electricity altogether" This does not matter because the 2kWh/gge electricity for CNG compression also needs the same generating and transmission losses! Remember, this is a direct comparison of home 240V AC electricity (to power compressor) to home 240V AC electricity (for EVSE). It takes 2kWh to compress 1 gge, and you can use the exact same electricity to charge an EV.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 10 Months Ago
      Holy crap, Jake!!! i had no idea that compression ate up that much power!
      Letstakeawalk
      • 10 Months Ago
      The hydrogen and synthetic methane can be easily stored and transported withing the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure. http://www.marcogaz.org/downloads/EGATEC2013/Day1-May30/PL/PL1f_6_JUDDv2_0.pdf Indeed, my own city had a town gas plant that produced and delivered syngas to commercial and residential customers beginning in the 1830's. This is not new technology, just a vast improvement over old techniques.
        DaveMart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Just finished reading that great link! This was the bit that hit me: 'Hydrogen, fuel of the future? Our gas infrastructure was designed to transport and use hydrogen blends and did so for over 150 years Hydrogen content up to 63% Since the introduction of natural gas, the network and applications have been developed for an assumed hydrogen concentration close to 0%.' So huge quantities of hydrogen can be moved around, and our experience of doing so is far more extensive than I realised! Those saying the embrittlement is a show stopper are even wronger than it was obvious they were if they managed 150 years ago! ;-)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 10 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Here's some more historical info: http://www.academia.edu/1029068/The_History_and_Operation_of_Gasworks_Manufactured_Gas_Plants_
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