Using wind power, Audi aims for carbon-neutral motoring

As a first step toward a carbon-neutral fleet of vehicles, Audi plans to use wind power as a source of clean energy for its electric e-tron and natural gas vehicles.

The Audi A3 TCNG will enter production in 2013.
The Audi A3 TCNG will enter production in 2013. Audi

- Audi plans to use wind power as a source of clean energy for its upcoming electric and natural gas vehicles. The combination of clean power and zero- and low-emissions vehicles is a first step by the manufacturer toward making its entire lineup carbon-neutral.

To make its carbon-neutral goal a reality, the carmaker is financing the construction of four wind turbines off the North Sea that will generate annually up to 53 GWh of electricity. Wind-generated electricity will be fed to the public power grid, and Audi plans to use a portion of the wind power to charge its electric e-tron vehicles. It will also use wind-generated electricity to produce hydrogen and something Audi calls e-gas.

Harnessing the power of wind to produce hydrogen through electrolysis, Audi can power fuel cell vehicles, including the Audi Q5 HFC. But until fuel cell vehicles enter production, the hydrogen will be combined with CO2 to produce e-gas, a synthetic form of methane. Audi will use the e-gas to power a CNG version of the A3. The A3 TCNG's four-cylinder TFSI engine is designed to run on e-gas, natural gas, or conventional gasoline.

To make the A3 TCNG even more environmentally friendly, Audi plans to break ground on its own synthetic methane facility in July. Using CO2 from a connected waste-biogas plant, Audi's facility will produce annually 1,000 metric tons of e-gas. This fuel will be added to Germany's natural gas network, which serves 900 CNG stations.

Electric vehicles powered by clean energy are the current gold standard for well-to-wheel zero-emission vehicles. And Audi's A3 TCNG is also arguably carbon-neutral because it produces a similar amount of tailpipe C02 emissions that were diverted from the atmosphere to produce methane. In other words, this "closed loop" system introduces no new carbon into the environment.

 

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