Not only is Audi breaking the consumer barrier to natural gas with their Audi A3 Sportback g-tron, the bi-fuel vehicle has spurred the company to engineer their own natural gas.
And it’s pushing the envelope for green technology. Audi’s e-gas is synthetic methane harnessed from renewable resources – electricity generated by two giant windmills in the North Sea. An electrolytic process will separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. CO2 will then be combined with the hydrogen to create methane (i.e. natural gas). The carbon dioxide itself comes from a biogas plant, and when bonded to hydrogen, the CO2 (a projected 2,800 metric tons of it) becomes carbon neutral. That’s roughly equivalent to the carbon dioxide that could be absorbed by 224,000 beech trees per year.
The vehicle can switch between natural gas and gasoline for an impressive combined range of up to 1,300 km. The engine itself is a turbocharged 1.4-litre, direct fuel injected four-cylinder, with the ability to run on gasoline, Audi’s e-gas and natural gas.
In many ways, Audi has created the conditions in both automobile technology and power generation for self-sustaining cars. This e-gas technology can be used to harness surplus electrical energy (which would otherwise be wasted or sold by generators for a discount) and made into natural gas. More importantly, the vehicle’s bi-fuel engine can operate just as well on all the clean, affordable and reliable natural gas we in North America can simply take from the ground.
Audi will be joining the ranks of Ford and Honda, in offering commercially available natural gas options. And though there are no plans to bring it to Canada today, our natural gas abundance could bring it here soon enough.
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