Audi Invests In Synthetic Gasoline From Sugar

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff

Audi’s bio-fuel initiative is expanding into France through an investment by the automaker to Global Bioenergies, whose bio-isooctane could be the replacement for petroleum gasoline when the time comes to make the switch.

The bio-fuel is made from fermented sugar through genetic modification of E. coli bacteria to produce isobutane gas without poisoning the yeast utilized in the fermentation, an issue currently experienced in ethanol production. The longer-lasting process works with feedstocks like corn and sugarcane as well as straight sugar, and can also be adapted to use biomass such as high-glucose wood chips.

At the pump, bio-isooctane can go directly into a vehicle without modification to the engine and fuel-delivery system, or can be blended with petrogasoline in the same manner as E15 and E85. The biogasoline may also come with a lower price per gallon or litres, as the fuel can be produced much quicker and cheaper than ethanol and other bio-fuels.

For the moment, Global Bioenergies is building two working proof-of-concept production plants in Germany and France, whose total annual output is expected to be 100,000 litres. Audi’s investment will be used to help in the rollout of the new fuel as part of the automaker’s branded e-fuel strategy, with bio-isooctane completing the triad with Audi’s investments in ethanol and biodiesel for their complete lineup of vehicles.

TTAC Staff
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26 of 45 comments
  • HerrKaLeun HerrKaLeun on Feb 01, 2014

    Isn't this the same boondoggle as ethanol from corn? I mean corn makes sugar, that gets fermented to ethanol. Now using the same sugar to make synthetic gasoline would still require us to grow corn (with all the water, pesticide and energy use). Or soem other plants... but in the end we still use a lot of energy growing that sugar-plant. So where does the sugar come from ? from the same unicorn that makes hydrogen? Before any new fuel gets researched, do an nergy balance. becasue with corn ethanol we need to put in more energy (coal, natural gas) than we get out. Do we want to repeat that?

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    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 02, 2014

      @YellowDuck The reality of US ethanol is this; 1. Sugarcane will produce far more ethanol per acre than corn. 2. Sugarcane cost half as much to produce a gallon of ethanol. 3. The US has a 54% tariff on Brazilian ethanol. 4. Why doesn't the US export food to Brazil and import it's ethanol for half the price. It appears the US is wasting taxpayers money by subsidising another industry needlessly.

  • Gasser Gasser on Feb 01, 2014

    Unless you live in Cuba, sugar is not over requires resources to grow it (at local market prices) and like other commodities, fluctuates in price on the world market. Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. I think the research $$ should be spent on natural gas conversion to liquid fuels or coal conversion to liquid fuel. No competition with land use, or diversion of edible crops. The main problem with natural gas is that fracking requires LOTS of water which will be the new shortage commodity of the 21st century. My $.02.

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    • Hummer Hummer on Feb 01, 2014

      @HerrKaLeun Oil sands in Alberta naturally bubble up with tar, its been in journals from explorers and stories from Indians using it to patch boats. Crops also don't grow very well in Alberta versus brazil, therefore I think he has at very least something to consider.

  • Hummer Hummer on Feb 01, 2014

    If this company can find a way to achieve against so many odds, require zero government funding, a fuel source equatable to the current petro used, without the harm and massive problems created by ethanol, all for a cheaper cost for the consumer..... Then go for it and become billionaires.

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    • Hummer Hummer on Feb 01, 2014

      @Pch101 Understood, but cheaper fuel is never a bad thing.

  • Bnolt Bnolt on Feb 02, 2014

    This is written with a definite POV, but it's pretty thorough: