Electric Vehicle Dictionary: Electronic Fuel
Skeptics of electric cars rely on e-fuels that clean conventional combustion engines. Perhaps hope will not come true.
sPX / Cologne. You are the biggest competitor to the electric car when it comes to carbon dioxide-free road traffic: e-fuels, synthetic fuels produced with the help of renewable energies. Above all, opponents and skeptics of e-mobility are bringing the climate-friendly alternative to gasoline and mineral oil into place again and again. But, as a rule, these are sham fights.
“E-Fuel” or “Power-to-X-Fuel” (“PtX”) refers to different types of alternative fuels. In a broader sense, this includes hydrogen, in a narrower sense meaning more process fluids (“PtL”) or gaseous (“PtG”) that can be used directly in today’s internal combustion engines. The latter in particular is what makes e-fuels so attractive – current and future vehicle fleets can be operated in a climate-neutral manner without the need for investments in e-mobility, batteries and charging stations. So it is a type of indirect transmission electrification where electricity is not used directly, but is first converted into fuel.
However, during conversion, there are significant losses. At around 15 percent, e-fuel has by far the worst efficiency of all the available driving technologies. Large amounts of green electricity is required for production, which can be used more efficiently in a battery electric vehicle (efficiency: 70 percent). Not only for this reason, production is also very expensive. Both reasons why there is no large-scale production of e-fuels anywhere in the world.
However, without e-fuels, a green shift in traffic would not be possible. However, electricity fuels are likely to be of particular interest to ships and air traffic. Whereas electronic battery navigation has not yet been an alternative for reasons of space, weight or range. E-fuels are likely to remain expensive exotic vehicles in road transport of cars – for classic car operations or for racing competitions.