We’ve all heard of synthetic oil, now comes a push by Bosch to get people talking about synthetic fuel for our cars.
How is synthetic fuel made?
Bosch is proposing that renewable energy is used to power the process of taking the hydrogen from water.
Then, by adding recycled carbon (sourced from industrial processes or using giant air filters) to the hydrogen – you get liquid fuel with the same chemical structure and fundamental properties as gasoline.
Bosch says this means existing engines and infrastructure, including filling stations, can still be used, while they estimate that switching over to synthetic fuel in Europe alone would take 2.8 gigatons of CO2 out of the air by 2050.
Dr Volkmar Denner is the Chairman of Bosch, he says a hybrid car running on synthetic fuel could be much cheaper to operate than a fully-electric car.
“Achieving our future climate targets calls for other intelligent solutions apart from electromobility,”
“After all, even if all cars were to drive electrically, aircraft, ships, and even trucks will still run mainly on fuel.
“Carbon-neutral combustion engines that run on synthetic fuels are thus a very promising path to explore.
“In addition, synthetic fuels can be designed to burn practically soot-free. In this way, the cost of exhaust-gas treatment can be reduced.”
Four Common Questions on Synthetic Fuel (supplied by Bosch):
What needs to happen before synthetic fuels become established?
Despite everything, considerable efforts are still needed before synthetic fuels can become established. The processing facilities are still expensive, and there are only a few test plants. The German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is thus supporting synthetic fuels as part of its “Alternative energies in transportation” initiative. The widespread use of these fuels will also be helped by the increasing availability of, and thus falling prices for, electricity from renewables.
How are synthetic fuels made?
Synthetic fuels are made solely with the help of renewable energy. In a first stage, hydrogen is produced from water. Carbon is added to this to produce a liquid fuel. This carbon can be recycled from industrial processes or even captured from the air using filters. Combining CO2 and H2 then results in the synthetic fuel, which can be gasoline, diesel, gas, or even kerosene.
How expensive will the fuel be?
At the moment, producing synthetic fuels is a complex and expensive process. However, a production ramp-up and favorable electricity prices could mean that synthetic fuels become significantly cheaper. Present studies suggest that the fuel itself (excluding any excise duties) could cost between 1.00 and 1.40 euros a litre in the long run.
What’s the difference between synthetic fuels and biofuels?
Synthetic fuels do not mean a choice between fuel tank and dinner plate, as biofuels do. And if renewable energy is used, synthetic fuels can be produced without the volume limitations that can be expected in the case of biofuels because of factors such as the amount of land available.
What are your thoughts on synthetic fuel? Good idea? Or is Bosch on the wrong track here? Let us know in the comments section below.