Towards CO2-neutral synthetic fuels

Published on 19.10.2021

Investments by large industrial groups in synthetic fuels (eFuel) are accelerating. Siemens Energy and Porsche have already built their own factory in Chile.

What if the future of sustainable mobility also included a synthetic fuel produced from renewable energy? This scenario would allow us to continue to use our combustion engine vehicles.
This is because eFuel is fully compatible with combustion engines. The Germans used this type of fuel, which at the time was made from fossil fuels, during World War II.

Now several major industrial groups want to bring synthetic petrol back into fashion by making it from renewable energy sources: biomass or water as a raw material and wind or solar power to produce electricity.

How does it work?

The process of making eFuel involves separating hydrogen from oxygen in water (H2O) through electrolysis. This process is very energy-intensive, which is why it is important to have sufficient green electricity produced by state-of-the-art facilities. The Porsche factory in Chile will be one such example – it will be powered by wind power.

Once hydrogen has been separated out of water, the second step is to catch the CO2 molecules in the air. The carbon is then filtered and mixed with hydrogen to form synthetic methanol. This methanol can then be converted into fuel using MTG (methanol to gasoline) technology developed by ExxonMobil and others.

If the processes involved prove to be successful in the months to come, synthetic fuels could occupy a significant place in the energy mix of the future.
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