Why Audi is backing Artificial Fuels…And You Should Too
It all starts with a substance called “Blue Crude” which can be made by a process powered by renewable energy. Audi Motors is partnering with Sunfire, a German specialist in reversible electrolysis with fuel cell technology. Sunfire has created a diesel-like liquid distilled from atmospheric CO2. Do you know what this means? Big. Deal. By using renewable energy to power their manufacturing it is by far the cleanest diesel fuel ever created.
The project is backed by the German auto company Audi as well as the German Federal Government. SunFire also has deep pocket backing by tapping into several Venture Capitalists such as Bilfinger Venture Capital, Total Ventures, KfW, and Electranova. Sunfire estimates it can produce one gallon of diesel using around 50 kWh’s of electricity, and this particular diesel fuel is higher quality. The Blue Crude reaches system efficiencies around 70%. Using a three-stage production efficiency can reach 90% levels.
The hedge in this R&D of diesel is that should electricity prices skyrocket and oil prices stay low, the process can be reversed to produce electricity from Blue Crude. Astonishing accomplishment and breakthrough for the automotive industry. When electricity is produced from the reverse process, other uses of the power could be grid balancing and energy storage (which is another hot market that needs attention).
Is it expensive? Yes, well depending. It all depends on electricity and oil prices. Sunfire CEO Carl Berninghausen relays that it is more expensive to produce Blue Crude than its fossil fuel rivals, however “its like comparing a farmer who is growing grain on one farm, while his neighbor simply digs into a huge silo of grain he has discovered on his property. Who do you think will be able to offer the cheapest product?”. Does that make any sense? Nice try Berninghausen but I don’t speak German.
Sunfire is seeking a new round of funding for projects for the German Government. Funds in the vicinity of several billion dollars in total will allow scaling of the Company. Currently the pilot produces a low 42.2 gallons of Blue Crude per day. In 3 years it could possibly reach just shy of 500 gallons per day based on current forecasts. This is yet another great innovation to help ween ourselves off of the reliant of oil and gas.
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