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Bosch Wants People to Make Synthetic Fuels, Please

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Our diesel and gasoline are made by refining petroleum (and mixing in some ethanol), but if we do as Bosch, the German auto parts manufacturer, suggests, then maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.

Basically what Bosch would like to see people do is invest in developing synthetic fuels, which are made from electricity and captured carbon dioxide.

The upshot to this would be making the fuels more or less carbon neutral—the fuel emits carbon dioxide when it’s burned, but carbon dioxide is captured while the fuel is being made. Of course, that carbon neutrality presumes that the electricity is being generated from a source which doesn’t produce carbon dioxide itself, so apparently Bosch is also advocating for renewable energy, here.

gas fuel pump dispender filling station origin historyFor example, one kind of synthetic fuel is Fischer-Tropsch diesel, which is produced using carbon monoxide and hydrogen, ending up chemically identical to conventional diesel. Another is fuel made from oxymethylene ethers, but often requires engine retrofits to be used.

This brings up the pretty huge downside: the cost. Right now, producing synthetic fuels is way, way more expensive than conventional squished-dinosaur oil and gas. Bosch argues that, like what is occurring with lithium-ion batteries in vehicles, increased economies of scale and research would cause the cost of synthetic fuels to fall, helping to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.

Of course, some would argue that electric vehicles are already working to do that, but Bosch doesn’t seem to think that EVs will be enough, and synthetic fuels could function as a stopgap measure.

News Source: Ars Technica