German carmaker Audi has opened a plant which makes green fuel it has dubbed ‘e-gas’.
What it describes as e-gas is a man-made methane created from water, green electricity and carbon dioxide. When used in some car models it makes them carbon neutral, says Audi.
The firm expects the e-gas will power 1,500 new Audi A3 Sportback g-tron vehicles for 15,000 kilometres (9,320 miles) in Germany.
Made at the Werlte plant (pictured) in the far west of Germany, the process has two steps, electrolysis and methanation. In the first step, the plant uses surplus green electricity to break water down into oxygen and hydrogen in three electrolysers.
Audi says the hydrogen could one day power fuel-cell vehicles but for the time being is reacted with CO2 to produce synthetic methane.
Apparently “virtually identical” to fossil natural gas it will be distributed via the German natural gas network to CNG filling stations. The plant is scheduled to begin feeding Audi e-gas to the grid in autumn 2013.
Germany has some 1,200 medium and heavy duty CNG trucks and 1,600 CNG buses according to the Natural and bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA). There are only 900 CNG fuel stations out around 15,000 conventional petrol and diesel outlets.