We Are Shaping Mobility
From the technology to the energy roadmap – IAV offers methodology from synthetic fuel to exhaust gas aftertreatment
How will it be possible to maintain personal mobility in future while at the same time lowering its emissions? This question is currently keeping the entire automotive industry busy. Besides e-vehicles, this can also be achieved by using alternative fuels that produce less CO2 and other emissions. But only by looking at the overall picture is it possible to reveal their potential and interaction with the rest of the energy system. IAV has models, tools and data to show the stakeholders – such as OEMs, grid operators and industrial CO2 emitters – the best ways of providing sustainable mobility.
E-fuels are a sustainable alternative to fuels from fossil sources as they are not only climate-friendly but can also have a positive influence on local emissions (such as particulate matter). As such, they provide the combustion engine and the associated infrastructure with a long-term perspective as an important part of future mobility.
Synthetic natural gas, for instance, is produced by means of water electrolysis using renewable electricity, followed by a further step in which methane is generated as the end product from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Audi uses an “e-gas” of this type in its g-tron models to reduce its vehicle fleet’s CO2 emissions. Alternative e-fuels are synthetic gasoline and synthetic diesel which can be produced on the basis of tried and proven methods of synthesis from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. OME (oxymethylene ethers), as a potential diesel substitute, can be produced from water, CO2 and electricity generated from renewable resources. “IAV can assess the characteristic properties of all alternative fuels, e.g. in terms of generation efficiency, benefit to climate and creditability for CO2 fleet emissions”, explains Dr. Bernd Becker who heads the Fuels and Future Mobility team at IAV. “This gives us a basis for evaluating their specific production capacities and market potentials. We can provide OEMs with suggestions for achieving the optimum mix of different drive solutions involving electric and fuel cell vehicles as well as vehicles powered by e-fuels.”
Adjustments must be made to the engine
There are many alternatives to conventional gasoline and diesel, but it is anything but easy to get them into volume production and harmonize their generation with the rest of the energy system. The challenges begin with the components for the fuel system and the engines: “You can’t simply replace conventional fuels with e-fuels”, Becker says. “Among other aspects, their different chemical properties demand changes to the metering system, engine management and exhaust gas aftertreatment.” Challenges of this nature can be overcome as shown, for example, by flex-fuel vehicles which can cope with any blends of gasoline and ethanol. “In the disciplines of mechanical systems, thermodynamics, chemistry, hydraulics and reaction kinetics, IAV has the expertise necessary for measuring, modeling, designing and optimizing fuel systems”, Becker says.
Synchronizing the production of e-fuels with the rest of the energy system and industry is a highly complex matter. This involves the producers of renewable energies, the power grid operators and industrial CO2 emitters. “Integrating the alternative fuels into the energy and economic system in an intelligent way will benefit everyone concerned”, says Becker. “Facilities for producing e-fuels increase the demand for wind power, and they also ease the strain on grid operators because, whenever needed, they can take up surplus electricity. Industrial CO2 emitters could provide carbon dioxide as a raw material for producing e-fuels.”
Other questions must also be answered, for example, which of the new fuels is to be integrated into the system at which voltage level. Large-scale facilities for producing synthetic gasoline can be connected to the high-voltage grid, decentralized plants for producing synthetic natural gas could be integrated into the medium-voltage grid.
Cross-sectoral assessment opens up synergies
The potential of e-fuels can only be fully exploited by looking at the overall interaction among all stakeholders and by using crosssectoral business models. “For this reason, we must shift from a technology roadmap to an energy roadmap”, Becker insists. In this context, IAV is conducting analyses for optimizing the use of synergies, for example, between grid operators and automobile manufacturers. “We have all the necessary methods, models, tools and data at our fingertips, and we are also familiar with the markets and the mobility behavior of consumers”, Becker says. “Being involved in numerous research projects, we are on the cutting edge of research, enabling us, for instance, to carry out complex network simulations. This means we can offer our customers an all-embracing methodology for evaluating all alternatives – from the fuel to the overall system.”