I’m usually not a big fan of liquid renewable fuels. I’m more of a “let’s keep it simple and use electricity” kind of guy, but the news from German startup Sunfire is intriguing.
According to the company, it has built a plant in cooperation with Audi that produces high-grade diesel using only renewable electricity, CO2, and water. Using electrolysis, Sunfire first splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Then it takes CO2 and combines it with hydrogen to create a hydrocarbon (the fuel). Each step is powered by renewables, such as solar or wind. Watch the video for a better explanation.
According to the team, the fuel carries no sulfur emissions and burns more efficiently than conventional diesel. Plus, you can use it both as a blend with existing fuel, or on its own, making it a plausible carbon neutral drop-in replacement for fossil fuels.
Next of course, Sunfire will have to build a much bigger plant, to drive down costs. According to reports, currently each liter costs between $1.15 and $1.70 or $6.37 a gallon to produce.
Given that it’s carbon neutral and could fuel a huge fleet of existing diesel vehicles already on the road, I’m making some allowances here and giving it a conditional thumbs up.