Audi is experimenting with two new synthetic fuels as a way to reduce vehicle emissions. Dubbed e-ethanol and e-diesel, the new synthetic fuels will enter production at an Audi plant beginning in 2014.
Developed through a partnership with U.S.-based Joule, Audi has discovered a way to produce synthetic ethanol and diesel using photosynthetic microorganisms, solar power, waste water and CO2 emissions.
The production method for Audi's e-fuels requires a large field fill with specially developed photosynthetic microorganisms housed in clear tubes. Those tubes are then filled with CO2 and waste water and exposed to sunlight, causing the microorganisms to excrete both e-ethanol and e-diesel. That fuel is then separated from the water.
Audi and Joule are currently building their first e-fuel production facility in an otherwise infertile region of New Mexico. Since the production method requires little else besides direct sunlight, Audi could theoretically build e-fuel production centers in any desert region.
Audi claims that between the clean energy production and the cleaner burn of the fuel, vehicles running on e-fuel emit the amount of CO2 and pure electric vehicles.