Efuels Vs Biofuels For Internal Combustion Engines
- Written by : Ashton G. Curran
- Date Published : 2023-04-14
- Date Updated : 2023-04-14
- Category / Tag : articles
E-fuel is a synthetic fuel that does not contain any fossil fuel-derived products such as oil.
Its production process begins with the process of electrolysis, where hydrogen is split from oxygen in water.
This process requires a lot of water, and the electricity used must come from renewable sources.
Carbon dioxide is captured from the air using filters and mixed with hydrogen and some catalysts to produce e-methanol.
This can then be further transformed into e-kerosene for aircraft fuel and e-fuel for internal combustion engines.
The carbon balance between the CO2 captured in the air and emitted by engines using e-fuel is almost zero, making it an appealing option for reducing carbon emissions.
However, detractors argue that e-fuels do not entirely eliminate carbon emissions as electric propulsion does, and their production costs remain high.
Additionally, e-fuels may not be produced in sufficient quantities for widespread adoption.
Nevertheless, proponents believe that economies of scale and fiscal policies could make this fuel competitive.
Porsche and Mazda are currently strong advocates of e-fuels, with Porsche having built an experimental fuel production plant in Chilean Patagonia that exploits the region's strong and constant winds to produce large quantities of green electricity with wind turbines.
On the other hand, the most well-known biofuel is HVO, a biodiesel produced with the use of vegetable raw materials, particularly waste and production residues or crops unsuitable for food use.
Eni, an Italian oil company, currently distributes HVO in 50 Italian service stations and produces it in its plants in Venice and Gela (CL).
Biodiesel is partially mixed with petroleum-derived diesel today but can entirely power compression-ignition engines.
Before using it, it is crucial to check the engine's compatibility in the use and maintenance booklet coded with EN 15940 (XTL) approval.
Not all manufacturers include this abbreviation in the onboard documentation.
Eni is working with manufacturers to create and disclose a complete list of models compatible with its product, commercially known as HVOlution.
Italy is advocating for biofuels to be included among the products allowed to fuel internal combustion engines of cars that will be sold after 2035 in Europe.
However, opponents of this solution argue that biodiesel only partially reduces carbon emissions in the exhaust and risks taking away space from food crops necessary to feed the world population.
Supporters, on the other hand, point out that biodiesel is readily available, does not require large investments in new production plants, can utilize the current distribution network, and does not involve any specific precautions for users.
These are all elements that could immediately contribute to partial decarbonization of transport.
In conclusion, Europe faces a dilemma between e-fuels and biofuels as alternative fuels for internal combustion engines in the future.
While e-fuels have almost zero carbon emissions and could be produced on a large scale, their production costs remain high.
In contrast, biodiesel is readily available, cost-effective, and requires no specific user precautions.
However, it only partially reduces carbon emissions in the exhaust and risks taking away space from food crops necessary to feed the world population.
Clarifying the differences between the two fuels and weighing their benefits and drawbacks is essential to make an informed decision.