Poor environmental balance for e-fuels: the mineral oil industry is fighting back

Poor environmental balance for e-fuels: the mineral oil industry is fighting back-balance

An electric car does not make sense for every mobility profile. Anyone who still wants to be climate-friendly on the road relies on the development of so-called “e-fuels” for combustion engines. These are synthetic fuels that are produced from water and CO2 using electricity. If this production takes place with renewable energies and if the CO2 is obtained from biomass or industrial exhaust gases, then the combustion of these fuels in an engine can be described as “climate-neutral”. Austria’s largest engine developer and optimizer, AVL List in Graz, is currently building such a demo system that can accommodate up to 100.000 liters of e-fuel per year. The core is a new high-temperature electrolysis. The petroleum industry hopes to use such e-fuels to polish its image as a fossil climate sinner and win back one or the other e-driver.

One of the European environmental organization Transport & Environment (T&E) commissioned study has now sparked an emotional discussion. The study conducted by the French research institute IFP Energies nouvelle (IFPEN) attested that synthetic fuels have a poor environmental balance. Compared to fossil gasoline and diesel, e-fuels would cause a higher release of CO and ammonia. Only for the emissions of fine dust particles, hydrocarbons and aldehydes would the data be better than for conventional fuels. A scientific study by the European testing laboratory Concawe was also cited. However, after the results were published, Concawe made it clear that T&E had misrepresented his test results. The test laboratory would not have examined the e-diesel produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process, but HVO diesel, i.e. a biofuel made from hydrogenated vegetable oils. The association of medium-sized mineral oil companies (Uniti) therefore rightly argues that it is evidence of “a lack of seriousness in the report” if conclusions about e-fuels are drawn from this data basis.

The test results on e-gasoline carried out by IFPEN are also questioned. The test liquids mixed by the institute did not correspond to the DIN EN 228 standard applicable to e-petrol in terms of their boiling and evaporation behavior. Uniti also argues that when analyzing the efficiency of the T&E location-specific factors of the generation of renewable energies would not have been sufficiently taken into account. E-fuels show higher efficiency gains when they are produced from renewable energies at locations with high full load hours and exported to the place of use. Porsche and Siemens have therefore built their “Haru Oni” plant for the production of climate-neutral e-fuels with the help of wind power near Cape Hoorn in Chile. The wind generators work particularly efficiently there. When it comes to power generation for e-cars, on the other hand, regional production makes more sense because of the transmission losses.

There was further criticism of the study results on the price and availability of e-fuels. Uniti considers both to be competitive, although production is not generously funded. The acceptance of T&E that e-fuels would immediately be marketed as pure fuels would be misleading. Rather, an admixture is initially planned. Due to the drop-in capability of e-fuels, the degree of admixture can be gradually increased, which further reduces production costs.

Sources: edison.media – Dispute about the ecological balance of e-fuels//science.papa.at – AVL is building a pioneering plant for eFuel production in Graz

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10 thoughts on “Poor environmental balance for e-fuels: the mineral oil industry is fighting back”

  1. such nonsense if the efuels are only mixed in, it brings the environment only minimal benefit that would be at z.b. 10% admixture like 10% pregnant if even efuels then only 100% otherwise it is good for the environment as well as nothing, or you could also add only 10% green electricity to e-cars instead of going to 100% green electricity as quickly as possible

  2. The red flag eFuels.

    While I now understand what the pilot plant in Chile is supposed to produce (only eFuel for racing, costs just don’t matter), I never know what all the other nonsense is all about. I don’t see what “Uniti considers both to be competitive” means in euros per liter.

    Some are willing to spend >>5€/l – e.g.B. racing – they are competitive there because there is no competition anyway.

    Unity is happy to explain to me whether you can ever get enough CO2 for a relevant amount for normal cars from biomass or industrial separation, especially if they are converted to H2 operation, right after the price per liter.

    “Efficiency analysis”: Haven’t seen a kWh of electricity lying around somewhere that could be squandered on nonsense.

    But that’s not new to anyone here anyway.

  3. And what comes out with local emissions from e-fuels is i.e. just as dirty and extremely harmful as with the normal fuels. But around the same thing the Ollobby does not scare how to see again.

  4. Interestingly, they only criticize the study without calcified with corrected numbers. They point almost to form errors (tested gasoline does not correspond to the standard). The problem is that their numbers will not look much better. In scientific criticism, you would read exact areas of view. Here you only refer to full load hours, etc. The transport of Down below also eats a good 15% of efficiency.


  5. Great. A demo system with 100.000 liters annual capacity. If we would do that in Germany, we can replace the imported petroleum with 1.23 million such systems. But I’ve heard before that larger systems are also possible and then I calculated that we’d only have 700.000 of them need. That alone shows how absurd the topic of eFuels is. For such systems, a lot of concrete and steel etc. needed. And not to mention the investments and landscape consumption. Maybe eFuels make sense for classic cars.

  6. E-fuels in combustion engines always mean local emissions and local noise pollution, which is precisely why they are not the solution, but instead prolong the health burden on the population.


    The eFuel Alliance is made up of companies and institutes from various sectors that want to promote the establishment of eFuels. Our members include:


    … (annotation: The following is a long list of companies that are members of the “eFuel Alliance”)


    (Source: efuel alliance.eu/de/initiative)

    Interesting for everyone who wants to know who is opposed to the “energy transition from below” and who wants to secure the power of the large energy, mineral oil and combustion engine manufacturers for many decades to come.

  7. Not to mention the terrible waste of energy. 40% loss in electrolysis, 25% in eFuel generation. Then it goes into the burner with 20% efficiency.

    Then 90% of the energy is wasted.

  8. I very much hope that the government will not agree to a windy deal like the one with hybrid cars. that e.g.B. Porsche sells combustion cars as eFuel-ready and declines responsibility if buyers then fill up with cheap fossil fuel.

  9. How does a fuel produced in a CO2-neutral manner change the poor efficiency of a combustion engine? people wake up. We banned the light bulb worldwide because it has an efficiency of 20%. The burners have an efficiency of max. 35%. How much longer do we want to deceive ourselves and Mother Earth? Just because something has a better lobby we let it continue? Mother Earth will take terrible revenge. But we still don’t get it.


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