Can Bosch’s synthetic fuel save the combustion engine from an untimely death?

Can Bosch’s synthetic fuel save the combustion engine from an untimely death?

Why it matters to you

Electric mobility is one way to reduce emissions, but Bosch’s synthetic fuel provides an alternative with no range anxiety.

Electrification is currently the automotive industry’s preferred solution to the problem of CO2 emissions. German components manufacturer Bosch is proposing an alternative solution which could save the combustion engine from an untimely death. The company is developing a synthetic fuel that is completely carbon-neutral, and it could replace gasoline and diesel in the long term.

The first step in the alchemy-like process involves extracting hydrogen from water and adding carbon to it. The carbon can be sourced from factories which generate it as a waste product, or extracted from the air using special filters. The carbon and the hydrogen are then combined to produce a liquid fuel. The process will be entirely CO2-neutral because the plans call for a power-generation plant fueled by renewable energy.

Because the fuel is man-made, engineers can dial in the different properties for various uses. One type of synthetic fuel could replace gasoline, another could fill in for diesel, and a third could take over for kerosene.

“Achieving our future climate targets calls for other intelligent solutions apart from electro-mobility. After all, even if all cars were to drive electrically one day, 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 – also for passenger cars,” said Volkmar Denner, Bosch’s chairman.

Reducing the environmental impact of the freight industry is just one piece of the puzzle. Bosch points out synthetic fuels are compatible with existing infrastructure, so there’s no need to build a brand-new network of refueling stations. They’re also compatible with every type of internal combustion engine, so they can play a sizable role in keeping classic cars on the road in the coming decades. How else will you drive your 1939 Lincoln hot rod 50 years from now?

Synthetic fuel technology is still at the embryonic stage of development, and making it remains a complicated and expensive process partially funded by the German government. Bosch engineers predict the fuels could get considerably cheaper in the coming years as production ramps up. The fuel itself could cost about 1.20 euros per liter in the long run, which is about the price of gasoline in Europe right now. Of course, it will inevitably get more expensive once taxes are factored in.

Published at Fri, 25 Aug 2017 13:17:58 +0000

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