Following the recent diesel scandals, one would think the crude fossil fuel would be anything but thriving. If Audi manages to complete their latest project successfully, however, we might all make the switch to diesel in a few years time. The idea is simple. Rather than extracting oil from the ground and converting it to diesel, one can make diesel out of resources found on the surface.
Water and CO2 to be more specific. Using electrolysis, it’s possible to split water into its two basic components: oxygen and hydrogen. Since only the hydrogen is needed for this plan to work, the resulting oxygen is released into the air. Using a two-step process, the hydrogen is then combined with CO2 from the ambient air to produce hydrocarbon chains. These chains range from nonane to icosane, or in other words, diesel.
Audi is keeping the specifics to themselves at this point, which is understandable, given how difficult developing such technology must have been. They’re planning to headquarter the main plant in Switzerland, the most anti-car country on the planet. Switzerland only recently lifted the racing ban in the country for the Formula E series, a series which doesn’t use any non-reusable energy. Getting such a country on your side is quite a feat then.
This does seem like a win-win scenario. The process will eat up CO2 and emit oxygen in the process, saving the planet and all the woodland creatures in the process. Although that sounds great on paper, the plan isn’t without its obstacles. Developing the technology so that it’s cost-effective is one hurdle, as is expanding the infrastructure in the future.
The cars using this fuel will also burn cleaner, but they won’t completely eliminate the emissions of harmful gases. Compared to current diesel vehicles though, expect to see a major improvement in the near future. If Audi’s plan works, more manufacturers will start similarly developing their own e-diesels.
Does this mean that electric vehicles aren’t the future? Well no, since an internal-combustion engine will always emit some exhaust gases no matter how efficient it is. For the near future though, this sure beats polluting the planet and waiting for the full EV experience to arrive. In Europe where most people drive diesel anyway, this is nothing short of a revelation.