Audi opened the e-gas plant in Werlte yesterday, making it the first automobile manufacturer to develop a chain of sustainable energy carriers. It begins with green electricity, water and carbon dioxide. The end products are hydrogen and the synthetic methane: Audi e-gas.
Audi says it’s the first automaker to “develop a chain of sustainable energy carriers.”
“The power-to-gas facility we built in Werlte can become a beacon project for the entire energy revolution, far beyond the boundaries of our company,” Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said at the inaugural ceremony, as quoted in the Audi press release.
The Audi E-gas plant uses electrolysis to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, which will someday power fuel-cell vehicles. For now, methanation is the process used to make the synthetic natural gas. Audi reacts the hydrogen with CO2 to generate renewable synthetic methane. The E-gas can be delivered through existing natural gas pipes since, chemically speaking, it’s nearly identical to natural gas. Delivery of E-gas through the infrastructure is scheduled to start in the fall of 2013.
There could be another reason for building the plant beyond sustainability. New vehicle sales in Europe are experiencing a serious downturn. Analysts also say that global OEMs are starting to transform their identities from “automakers” to “mobility companies,” so Audi’s e-gas plant could cover a few strategic agendas. Interesting thought, don’t you think?