I’ve always had that worry in the back of my head: what happens when we run out of oil?
I’m a huge car guy, and the price of oil directly affects us car/diesel gurus. Completely running out worldwide is not what I’m overly concerned with; it’s when the cost to get it out of the ground becomes more expensive than it’s worth. Of course new technologies—like controversial fracking—will continue to pop up, giving us more oil we didn’t think we had affordable access to. But eventually all the cheap and easy ways will be gone.
Sure, we may not live to see that day, but we’ve all lived through times where it was exponentially more painful to put fuel in our diesels than it is today. As much as I hate to say it, I, for the most part, parked my truck for over a year and rode my Harley to work when diesel was roughly $5 a gallon in California. I tried veggie oil but couldn’t find a cheap and consistent enough supply. I even ran used—but extremely filtered—engine oil and automatic transmission fluid cut half and half with #2 diesel. Let’s just hope the DMV doesn’t read this…
Long story short, it was more work than it was worth. Granted I could have just picked up a VW TDI or something else that got mileage that was closer to the Harley’s 50mpg. But that’s not the point here. I want to drive my diesel pickup every day and hate to think of the day that that’s not feasible. Rest assured. There will come a day when this becomes a reality, unless something is done about it. Sure, if you can get a hold of a good, cheap supply of veggie oil it then becomes an option—biodiesel too. But at the moment, there’s not a large enough infrastructure set up to truly and eternally supply the Americas with enough oil, let alone the entire world.
According to Audi, there’s another option: E-Diesel. Apparently they have found a way to make a fuel that compression ignition engines can burn, and it’s derived from plain ole’ water and carbon dioxide. At this point, it’s too early to say it’s a good replacement for conventional diesel. Until I see first-hand proof that it delivers the same power #2 diesel does without excessive negative pitfalls, it’s just a cool idea.
Who knows, it may be lacking on BTUs and therefore deliver lackluster performance and efficiency; it might kill injectors due to lack of lubricity (think about the problems we had when ULSD use was first mandated). Heck, it may end up costing substantially more to produce than #2 diesel does. Only testing and time will prove its worthiness. But it is an extremely intriguing new technology to say the least.
Audi makes E-Diesel (and E-Ethanol for gassers) from a product called “Blue Crude.” Extremely simplifying the process, Blue Crude is created by breaking water down into its individual elements: hydrogen and oxygen. This is done by using steam at over 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit in a process called high-temperature electrolysis. Furthermore they’re doing this with electricity taken from sustainable sources such as wind generators and solar. The oxygen is then vented into the atmosphere while the hydrogen is introduced to the CO22 under high pressure and high temperature in synthesis reactors. The chemical reaction that takes place produces liquid Blue Crude. From there, it can be refined into E-Diesel.
They’ve already run a few Audi’s off this new fuel and have reported great results. Like I said, it’s way too early to tell if this will become the fuel of the future, but it’s got my attention. I’ll be keeping an eye on E-Diesel for sure. DW
The Audi Group