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The German automaker Audi, has been able to create an "e-diesel", or diesel containing ethanol, by using renewable energy to produce a liquid fuel with just water and carbon dioxide. After a start-up phase of just 4 months, the plant in Dresden operated by the technology company Sunfire has managed to produce its first batch of what they are calling "blue crude."
The first step in the process consists of taking advantage of renewable energies through solar, wind or hydroelectric energy.
This energy is used to heat the water to temperatures above 800 ° C (1472 ° F).
Vapor decomposes into oxygen and hydrogen through electrolysis, a process in which an electric current is passed through a solution.
Hydrogen is removed and mixed with carbon monoxide under high pressure, creating the "blue crude." Sunfire tells us that not only is synthetic fuel greener than fossil fuels, but the overall efficiency of the process is very high, around 70%. The e-diesel can then be mixed with normal diesel, or used as a fuel alone.
But everything may not be what it seems.
The process used by Audi is actually the Fischer-Tropsch process and has been known to scientists since the 1920s. It was even used by the Germans to convert coal to diesel during World War II, when fuel supplies were in short supply. .
The process is currently used by many companies around the world, especially in countries where oil reserves are low, but reserves of other fossil fuels, such as gas and coal, are high.
Another German company called Choren has already made an attempt to produce biofuels from biogas and the Fischer-Tropsch process.
Backed by Shell and Volkswagen, the company had all the support and funding it needed, but in 2011 it filed for bankruptcy due to problems in the process.