Audi's e-Gas Project Leads Automotive Industry Towards Future of Sustainable Mobility

LONDON -- Frost & Sullivan presents the 2014 European Visionary Innovation Leadership Award towards a Future of Sustainable Mobility to Audi AG for the Audi e-gas project. With the e-gas project, Audi has pointed eco-conscious automotive original equipment manufacturers' (OEMs') investment and innovation efforts towards other industries such as the energy sector, so they can share knowledge, gain expertise, and develop solutions for sustainable mobility.

"While the automotive industry is only now waking up to the concept of new mobility horizons, Audi has already blazed trails for both premium and mass-market OEMs to follow and envisage a world where urban-connected cities, connected living, and zero emission futures are a reality," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Yeswant Abhimanyu.

Already, urbanisation markers such as mega cities, regions, and corridors; innovating to zero concepts such as zero waste/emission, zero emissions from cars, carbon-neutral cities, factories, and retail stores, bricks and clicks; micro-mobility; and the Internet of Everything are all changing the automotive landscape. Audi has pushed the envelope in mobility with innovations in Audi e-gas, Audi e-fuels, Audi City, and Audi connect.

Audi has rolled out its CO2-neutral mobility vision with the e-gas project, wherein it uses CO2 as a raw material in the production of e-gas. The e-gas project specifically covers e-power, e-hydrogen, and e-gas to propel future vehicles. The e-diesel and e-ethanol projects are other outstanding examples of Audi's approach to future mobility sustainability. E-ethanol and e-diesel have the advantages of being produced without biomass and also can be blended with fossil fuel. Better purity and use with existing diesel systems is an added advantage of e-diesel. Audi's future mobility goal is to have mobility users drive the A3 e-tron emission-free in cities and the Internal combustion engine (ICE) with e-fuels outside of city limits.

Furthermore, the electrolysis plant that produces hydrogen for the production of e-gas is operated by renewably generated electricity, placing Audi among the few global vehicle manufacturers to develop and build an entire chain of sustainable energy sources (electricity, hydrogen, and e-gas). In this plant, hydrogen is made to react with CO2 from a biogas plant that is fed with organic waste in a methanation process. This CO2, which would otherwise pollute the atmosphere, is bound in to produce e-gas.

Audi's push towards the development and production of climate-friendly synthetic fuels addresses concerns regarding the future of the internal combustion engine and ways in which CO2 emissions can be further reduced. The company's excellence in strategy is exemplified by its corporate vision of combining climate-neutral mobility with automotive, to create harmony between ecology and economy.

"Audi's aim is to develop fuels with emission-binding potential to reduce 100% percent of the CO2 that the vehicles are emitting when in use and with an overall GHG reduction of more than 70% in a complete life cycle calculation including the entire process of production and logistics," notes Abhimanyu. "The use of e-gas from a plant that uses wind energy to fuel the Audi A3 g-tron illustrates the integration of this vision into its business strategy."

Importantly, the e-gas project provides 'flexibility in use'; wherein, the e-gas can be distributed to filling stations through the existing German public-gas network. Audi also astutely signed key partnerships to realise its visionary projects; for example, it built the facility in Werlte in cooperation with partners such as ETOGAS (formerly SolarFuel), MT-BioMethan, and EWE. Likewise, Audi partners with Joule for further R&D in its e-fuel project.

Another key aspect of the innovation process is the focus on eco-balance. This balance is achieved by pursuing an integrated cradle-to-grave approach. It looks beyond the CO2 emissions related to tank-to-wheel and includes the well-to-wheel perspective of the energy used for motoring, and cradle to cradle assessments of the cars and its materials. The other point of focus is product innovation and investments in vehicles such as the A3 g-tron, which aids this eco-balance. It boasts advanced technology in fuel storage, lightweight design, recycling, efficiency, and range.

One of the key effects of the e-gas PtG project on society is that it identifies a place to store the excess renewable energy. If strong winds generate excess electricity, it can be converted to e-gas and stored in the public-gas network in Germany, which has more than 200 terrawatt hours of capacity.

"Audi has firmly positioned itself on a path towards sustainable mobility by building a chain of sustainable energy sources," observes Abhimanyu. "This coupled with its continued developments in powertrain and drive technologies, lightweight approaches, and associated technology advancements, have made it a worthy recipient of the 2014 European Visionary Innovation Leadership Award."

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