Audi just created a new diesel made of water and carbon dioxide

Updated May 9, 2015

Sprit der Zukunft: Forschungsanlage in Dresden produziert erste Menge Audi e-diesel

While a future of electric charging stations dotting our highways inches closer to reality, Audi believes it may have created the “fuel of the future.”

A graphic showing the steps of production for Audi’s new e-diesel.A graphic showing the steps of production for Audi’s new e-diesel.

Audi announced that the first batch of what it calls, “e-diesel” was manufactured in energy partner Sunfire’s Dresden, Germany, facility.

Water and carbon dioxide (CO2) are the only materials needed for producing the fuel, which was created after a commissioning phase of four months at the Dresden plant.

Through several steps of high-temperature and pressurized electrolysis and synthesizing, powered by renewable energy sources such as wind power, water and CO2 create what Audi and Sunfire call “blue crude.” This blue crude is then refined into Audi’s e-diesel. You can see production of the blue crude in the video below.

The e-diesel, one of several Audi e-fuels in development, was used in German Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka’s official vehicle during the announcement.

“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” Wanka said. “If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”

The main caveat is the price of the fuel. Sunfire says it costs between $4.25 and $6.42 per gallon.

However, the company’s feel that is within what most customers are willing to pay and Audi’s head of Sustainable Product Development Reiner Mangold added that the e-diesel has “virtually no impact on the climate.”

The Sunfire plant will produce about 792 gallons in the coming months—about 42 gallons a day. But the company has plans to expand the production.

“If we get the first sales order, we will be ready to commercialize our technology,” Sunfire CTO Christian von Olshausen said in a release from the company.

Outside of the e-diesel, Audi is working to develop a synthetic methane e-gas plant in Wertle, Germany, and it has teamed with French company Global Bioenergies to create e-gasoline. Audi is also working on e-diesel and e-ethanol with American company Joule using microorganisms.