Can we get gasoline from diesel?
In contrast to petrol and diesel, synthetic fuels - also called e-fuels - are not made from crude oil, but from renewable electricity and CO2. However, like gasoline or diesel, they can be used in internal combustion engines or added to them. These are compounds with names such as oxymethylene ether (OME for short) or n-octanol. These compounds burn almost soot-free and therefore make it possible to improve engines in such a way that they emit far less CO2 and almost no fine dust or nitrogen oxide in the overall balance.
In the future, both synthetic fuels and electromobility will be necessary in a meaningful combination. Only their interaction promises significant progress on the way to emission-free mobility.
Also in ships, airplanes and trucks
If it is possible to produce synthetic fuels in large quantities, cars would emit fewer pollutants in the future. It would also have the advantage that they would only have to be rebuilt a little - unlike when converting to electric drive. In addition, synthetic fuels could also be used in ships, airplanes or trucks - in other words, where batteries are unlikely to be able to replace conventional drives in the future either. Another advantage is that gas stations could remain.
An important part of the energy transition
And there is something else that speaks in favor of e-fuels: similar to gasoline or diesel, they can be stored very well for longer periods of time - unlike electricity generated from wind and sun. It is even possible that on days with lots of sunshine and wind, excess electricity from renewable energies is processed into synthetic fuels. Synthetic fuels could become an important part of the energy transition.
They can be manufactured from various raw materials: from fossil sources and biomass, but above all from CO2, water and electricity generated from renewable sources. That's particularly interesting. If synthetic fuels are obtained from biomass or renewable energies, their CO2 balance is almost neutral, as only as much CO2 is emitted as was needed for their production. The required CO2 can either be obtained directly from the atmosphere or intercepted in industrial processes such as steel production.
There is a need for research
There is still some research to be done, especially when it comes to producing synthetic fuels from renewable energies and CO2 in large plants. So far, the first small systems have only been able to deliver a few liters of fuel. It is also known that synthetic fuels have certain properties that differ from fossil fuels and that, under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to adapt the engine - for example to the seals or the injection pump. It is also a fact: With current processes and current crude oil prices, synthetic raw materials are not economically viable.
The Federal Ministry of Research has therefore been intensively supporting research on e-fuels in various projects for several years. The goal: the production of fuels without the use of fossil energies.
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