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Audi balanced mobility

The route to CO2-neutral mobility

Audi is blazing utterly new trails to shape the future. Under the motto
of Audi balanced mobility, the company wants to realize a
considerable goal: a neutral CO2 balance across the entire mobility
chain. A core aspect of this mission is the Audi e-gas project: a
milestone not only for Audi but also Germanys entire energy-supply
The Audi e-gas project
En route to the CO2-neutral mobility of tomorrow, Audi is systematically
relying on renewable energies and the Audi e-gas project will be a
milestone along this route. It consists of two main components. Wind
turbines will generate clean power, part of which Audi will use in the future
to build its e-tron vehicles. Clean power will also play a key role in powering
e-tron vehicles. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of
AUDI AG, declared in May 2010: Electric Audi vehicles ought to run
predominantly on sustainably generated electricity.
A new plant, the e-gas project's second component, will use the remaining
green power to produce hydrogen by means of electrolysis. This source of
energy, generated in a climate-friendly manner, can be used to power fuelcell vehicles in the medium term. Audi will also combine hydrogen with CO2
in an additional step to manufacture methane. Although this methane is also
known as synthetic natural gas, the company refers to it as Audi e-gas. It
can power combustion engines designed for use with natural gas; as of
2013, Audi will begin series production of such models, designated TCNG.
Methanation is particularly advantageous in that the reaction occurs with the
aid of CO2, which consequently is not discharged into the atmosphere. This
results in a completely closed CO2 cycle, which in turn facilitates climatefriendly long-distance mobility.
The Audi e-gas project furthermore exhibits a tremendous advantage from
which Germanys entire energy-supply industry can benefit: In the form of
methane, electricity generated via renewable energy can be fed into the
natural-gas network which helps to solve the problem of how to store
surplus wind or solar energy. If necessary, this energy can flow from the gas
network back to the power grid at any time.
Along with our project partners, AUDI AG is realizing a method which puts
CO2-neutral mobility within reach, says Michael Dick, Member of the Board
of Management for Technical Development. Our technology has the


potential to give new direction to the discussion on expanding renewable

sources of energy. We ourselves are taking the initiative and are
complementing electric mobility with an equally eco-friendly concept for long
Audi has completed the research phase of the e-gas project and will take
the second step in mid-2011: investing several tens of millions of euros in
the construction of an industrial facility. Audi will thus kick off this large-scale
energy project together with its project partners: SolarFuel GmbH from
Stuttgart; the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), also
based in Stuttgart; the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy
System Technology (IWES) in Kassel, Germany; and EWE Energie AG.
Electricity from offshore wind turbines
Wind turbines constitute the first significant component of the Audi e-gas
project. During the projects first phase, four large power plants at an
offshore wind park in the North Sea are being financed by Audi and a
regional power-supply company. Rated at 3.6 MW each, these four turbines
are to supply some 53 GWh of electricity annually. This is equivalent to the
requirements of a medium-sized city.
Concerning the use of wind power in Germany, offshore wind-power
stations currently play a minor role. Located far from the coastline, they
harness wind averaging 30 km/h (19 mph) to produce about 40 percent
more energy than onshore stations. It goes without saying that great
potential has yet to be tapped.
The e-gas plant
The projects second large component is the e-gas plant, which will produce
hydrogen and methane on an industrial scale. Ground is scheduled to be
broken in Werlte, Germany in July 2011. The e-gas plant is connected to a
waste-biogas plant, which supplies the concentrated CO2 necessary for
methanation and which would otherwise pollute the atmosphere. The plant
will annually produce some 1,000 metric tons of e-gas while consuming
2,800 metric tons of CO2.
The plant will comprise two main components: an electrolyzer and a
methanation unit. There is also piping technology, tanks, open-loop and
closed-loop control electronics, and compressors for feeding e-gas into the
natural-gas network. In January 2011, a lab facility with an output of 25 kW
was set up for testing purposes; it was possible straightaway to produce gas
which meets feeding-in quality requirements.


The electrolyzer runs on electricity generated via renewable energy. Aided

by polymer electrolyte membranes, the electrolyzer splits water (H2O) into
its components: hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). In the future, hydrogen will
be able to power fuel-cell vehicles such as the Audi Q5 HFC; such vehicles,
however, have not yet reached product maturity. Hydrogen therefore will not
be used directly during the projects first phase; instead, after being
separated and dried, it is placed into a storage tank and then the
methanation unit.
Here, the hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide (CO2) to create
methane (CH4) as per the Sabatier reaction; water (H2O) forms as a byproduct. Methane, a synthetic natural-gas substitute, is thus produced; it is
subsequently conveyed to Germanys natural-gas network as well as the
network of CNG stations.
A long-proven technology in the chemical industry, it can in principle
function wherever there is water, electricity and a CO2 source.
Fundamentally speaking, CO2 can also be obtained from the surrounding
air, but doing so entails more resources.
Even during this initial phase of the e-gas project, the electricity generated
by wind power and the methane produced at the plant will suffice for 2,500
motor vehicles in total. Some of the wind-generated electricity would be
enough to manufacture 1,000 units of the A1 e-tron and propel them 10,000
km (6,200 miles) per year. An additional share will be fed into the grid;
surpluses within the power grid would thus benefit the e-gas plant, too.
By means of the e-gas generated via renewable energy, 1,500 units of the
A3 TCNG could each be driven 15,000 km (9,300 miles) annually. And there
would still be 150 metric tons of e-gas for the public gas network. As
needed, this gas could also flow back. All in all, that represents a big boost
to the power grid and equates to far more than 30,000,000 climate-neutral
kilometers (18,700,000 miles) driven every year.
With regard to environmental impact, e-gas dazzles as fuel for vehicles. If
one considers the well-to-wheel analysis in lieu of exhaust emissions, then a
compact natural-gas car powered by e-gas emits fewer than 30 grams of
CO2 per kilometer (48.28 g/mile). And that includes all emissions created
during construction of the wind turbines and the e-gas plant. Only electric
vehicles which are directly supplied with wind-generated electricity perform
even better: they emit under 4 g/km (6.44 g/mile). However, they exhibit a
drawback in the overall energy picture regarding vehicle production: a lot of
energy is needed to manufacture their batteries.


Storage of green power in the gas network

The Audi e-gas project is capable of solving several pressing problems
faced by the sustainable energy-supply industry all at once. In the process
chain, clean power, hydrogen and methane are produced: three key
sources of energy for future mobility. In the medium term, this technology
has the potential to establish a highly flexible power-supply infrastructure for
electricity, heating and motor vehicles which is based entirely on renewable
energies; in addition, the respective percentages of the three sources of
energy can be adjusted as required.
The future of Germanys power supply belongs to renewable sources of
energy. Last year, their share of overall consumption of electricity, heating
and fuel exceeded 10 percent for the first time. Renewable energies already
account for 17 percent of electricity generated, whereby wind energy
constitutes the largest share and figures vary considerably among German
states. Renewable sources of energy are forecast to make up 77 percent of
Germanys overall electricity consumption by the year 2050.
Wind power has great potential. The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy
and Energy System Technology (IWES) was commissioned to conduct a
study by WindEnergie, a German association. According to the study, wind
power could be harnessed to realistically generate some 390 terawatt hours
(TWh) of energy this would have satisfied 64.7 percent of Germanys
overall electricity consumption in 2010 (603 TWh). Overall output in the
computational model amounts to 198 gigawatts (GW).
The production of electricity via wind and sun, however, is subject to natural
fluctuations and the necessary storage capacity is currently very low.
Pumped-storage power plants are capable only of short-term storage:
during an emergency in Germany, they could supply power for all of an
hour. All other solutions, such as compressed-air energy storage plants, are
similarly very limited regarding capacity and period of storage.
The methanation of hydrogen using renewable energy helps solve this
problem: the power grid is linked to the underground gas network, which
can store surplus power supplies for months. The gas network has a
potential capacity of 217 TWh, in contrast to the power grids storage
capacity of just 0.04 TWh. The latters transport capacity, moreover, is just
one tenth of that of the gas network.
Energy can be conveyed from the gas network perhaps by means of gasfired power plants or, in a decentralized manner, in block-type thermal
power stations back to the power grid at any time. New, decentralized
cogeneration power plants can boost efficiency even more. In addition,
methane is also suitable for the supplying of gas to private residences or
providing high-temperature process heat.

The efficiency ratio of the e-gas pilot plant from wind turbine to methane
gas is about 54 percent. If the dissipated heat is also used, this value is
considerably higher still. The aim is to achieve an efficiency ratio above 60
percent in the future. The potential to store large quantities of energy
made possible by pairing electricity with gas on the one hand as well as
wind energy and solar energy on the other can truly invigorate the
expansion of renewable sources of energy. The fact that the Audi e-gas
project can easily be replicated in any country with an existing natural-gas
network hints at the technical and economic significance of this project.
The e-gas projects cars
Audi will supply three sources of energy in the scope of the e-gas project:
electricity, hydrogen and methane gas. Respectively, each one is suitable
for a very different type of drive concept: for electric cars, fuel-cell vehicles
and CNG vehicles.
The Audi A1 e-tron
The A1 e-tron is the concept of a purely electric vehicle. If necessary, a
range extender can recharge its battery; the A1 e-tron is propelled
exclusively by the power of its electric motor. The four-seater is a zeroemission vehicle during short city drives.
This small compact cars electric motor supplies a continuous output of 45
kW (61 hp) and a peak output of 75 kW (102 hp), transmitted to the front
wheels via a single-stage transmission. The peak torque of 240 Nm (177.01
lb-ft) is available right from the off. The A1 e-tron dashes from zero to 100
km/h (zero to 62.14 mph) in 10.2 seconds and boasts a top speed above
130 km/h (80.78 mph).
It draws its energy from a package of lithium-ion batteries arranged in a T
pattern beneath the center tunnel and rear bench seat. The liquid-cooled
battery stores 12 kWh of energy, which suffices for more than 50 km (31.07
miles) of driving. High-voltage current will recharge the battery in less than
an hour. As of longer distances, a range extender operates. A small rotarypiston engine underneath the luggage compartment recharges the battery
by means of an alternator.
The Audi A3 TCNG
The Audi A3 TCNG, a technological standard-bearer, can run on the e-gas
which Audi produces in the methanation unit. Its four-cylinder TFSI engine
and the exhaust systems catalytic converter were designed with natural gas
in mind. In Germany alone, natural gas is available at some 900 CNG
stations and counting.


Via the balanced cycle method similar to the purchasing of green power
A3 TCNG owners should be able to fuel their vehicles with wind energy
starting in 2013. When a driver refuels with e-gas, the corresponding
amount of renewable energy required to produce this e-gas is fed into the
The volumetric density of e-gas is equal to that of fossil-based natural gas
and is thus lower than premium unleaded. Similarly to natural gas, the
combustion of e-gas also creates far less CO2 than premium unleaded
does. Concerning the e-gas project, this means that CO2 emissions are
very low not only in the overall picture (well-to-wheel), but also at the
exhaust pipe (tank-to-wheel). Not one gram of CO2 is emitted via the
exhaust pipe which would not have been consumed during the manufacture
of e-gas. In other words, there is a closed CO2 cycle between the fuels
manufacture and its combustion.
The high octane rating of approx. 130 RON for natural gas, biomethane and
also for e-gas facilitates a high compression ratio in the turbo engine
which ensures high efficiency. Like all Audi models, the A3 TCNG in no way
sacrifices driving enjoyment or everyday practicality. Its gas tanks, which
store the e-gas at a pressure of 200 bar, offer enough capacity for long
drives. The Audi A3 TCNG also boasts a bivalent configuration: if the
natural-gas tanks run empty and there is no CNG station nearby, the vehicle
can run on conventional gasoline with no drop in performance.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the
model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice;
errors excepted.