German car company Audi has created a new diesel fuel that has the power to make a large difference in the fight against climate change—the fuel is made entirely from water, carbon dioxide (aka CO2, the primary greenhouse gas causing climate change), and a little renewable energy.

The new “e-diesel” was created in Dresden by Audi partner Sunfire, and has already been tested personally by Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, in an Audi A8. “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” she said in an Audi press release.

While diesel vehicles have been known to be more efficient than those that run on gas, diesel engines have come under scrutiny in recent years, mostly for having a higher emission rate of nitrogen dioxide (a poisonous air pollutant) than other cars. Certain European cities have even tried to ban them outright.

Audi hopes that “e-diesel” can change all this. Not only is the new fuel’s production carbon neutral, it is also much cleaner in use. “The engine runs smoothly and produces fewer emissions,” Sunfire’s CTO Christian von Olshausen says in the video below, which provides a brief look into the production process of the new fuel. “Plus there aren’t any sulfur emissions as this fuel is sulfur free.” Sulfur dioxides are known to act as precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates.

“E-diesel” is created in a relatively few amount of steps. According to a diagram provided by Audi (see below), the “blue crude” that Sunfire creates is made in three steps. First, the energy necessary to produce the fuel is created using entirely renewable resources—mostly wind and solar. Second, water (H20) is split using a process called electrolysis to create hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). Third, the hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide (C02), some of which comes directly from the air, helping to clean it of the greenhouse gas in the course. From there turning the blue crude into “e-diesel” is as simple as processing it in a refinery as any other crude oil might be. The fuel can then be combined with other diesel fuels or used on its own.

Currently “e-diesel” is a few years away from being commercialized. In the meantime Sunfire is set to produce 42 gallons of the synthetic diesel a day. Though, when the product does become available to the public, the price looks to clock in slightly above the current price of diesel—a figure that the company hopes will be competitive.

“If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place,” Minister Wanka said.

For leading the way on the road to climate reform and carbon neutral transportation we are proud to announce Audi and Sunfire as our Luminaries of the Week. – This article was originally published on