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8 May, 2023
2 min time to read

This is a summary of the article E-fuels: how big a niche can they carve out for cars by Jasper Jolly in the Guardian.

The startup Zero Petroleum has presented a test run of the car running on e-fuel in Oxfordshire. The petrol was using electricity, hydrogen from water and carbon captured from air. This is an illustrative example of the fact that the automotive industry is more or less prepared to start the process of moving away from carbon fuels and improving battery electric vehicles.

Cons Over Pros

Experts, however, consider e-fuels to take quite a small area in the field. There are fundamental physical laws that restrain their implication. For example, during every stage of producing such a fuel there is an amount of energy lost (about 45%, as a campaign group Transport & Environment calculates, leaving you with 16% of remaining energy for the car after the whole process), and there is a problem with zero-carbon electricity as well.

Another problem appears while trying to organize the production and finding qualified employees. Zero Petroleum, which produces e-fuels on a small scale, is now aiming to produce only 30 litres a day, but its founder, Nilay Shah, is fundraising to build a factory big enough to make thousands of litres. He specifies that e-fuel is not a daily routine decision for a private car.

Prospects For the Future of E-fuels

Car industry and its stakeholders are facing the fear of plenty of resources being put off because of the internal combustion engines replacement with e-fuels, and huge costs demanded as well. That fear and lobbying has made the EU put forward technical standards for e-fuels beyond the 2035 phaseout date for fossil fuel cars. Even a tiny niche, however, that Shah aspires to take, plays a great role in a market as huge as the global auto sector. E-fuels could be the choice of the hybrid car owners and habitants of remote communities.

Combining all the restraints, European governments are mostly aiming at installing enough electric chargers and maybe consider e-fuels as a possible opportunity for the aviation sector.