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Stock take: Are e-fuels part of our future?


How much greener are these synthetic fuels?

CS: “As these are synthetic fuels, they aren’t this conglomerate of different chemicals, as we see when we refine fossil gasoline or fossil oil into gasoline or into diesel. And so when we burn these e-fuels, they burn much cleaner than the conventional fossil fuel. So there’s a certain advantage, especially in terms of particulates or other things.”

SS: “There’s a whole audit trail in place, a kind of proof of sustainability. That’s like a little mini lifecycle analysis for the fuels themselves, where you can audit the whole production trail.”

PL: “One of the interesting things with fossil crude oil is you drill when you get a barrel of oil. You’ve got to use all of it; we can’t throw what you don’t want into the river. So what you find is that with the existing standards for fuels, all of that barrel will get put in one or more of these buckets. And this is why we have ships that burn the most horrendously dirty fuels: because that’s a lot of what gets left over.

“What’s fascinating about synthetic fuels is that there’s a whole new future there in chemistry, because we can make completely new fuels. The cost to make a bad molecule is the same as to make a good molecule, so we will make some terrifically good fuels in the future. A whole new lease of life in combustion, in fact, with high octane, clean burning and no sulphur.”

What about the costs of synthetic fuels? 

CS: “We must be very clear. The production of gasoline diesel was made in large quantities, with industrial processes that gave companies their profits and gave us the fuel that we need. Now we’re making a complete technology change. We’re here starting up a new industry using new technologies, but never have these been made on such a big scale. And that means it needs investment. And that means also that the costs in the very beginning might be higher, and they will be higher than the current costs for raw gasoline. But with economies of scale and progress in the process, those costs will go down.”



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