If we focus for a second on the city environment, where many inhabitants live in apartment buildings, how will those owners of plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles be assured of a charging point when they arrive back at home? Not all apartment buildings have the car parking facilities to accommodate individual charging points, and it would be safe to say that those not living on the ground floor would struggle to charge their vehicles from their elevated positions. The likelihood is that on-street charging stations will be the only option, and this has the potential to cause drivers to either park further away from their dwelling than they would otherwise wish, or alternatively to force them to continue driving around to find a suitable space close to home.
This is of course just the tip of the iceberg. It is an enormous undertaking to replace the existing and established ICE infrastructure, and realistically it will take decades to do so effectively. So, are there alternatives, or solutions that may help to ease the path to full electrification? One solution could be to push forward with equal ferocity with the development of synthetic fuels, which would make use of the existing infrastructure and at the same time provide a sustainable alternative to gasoline, diesel and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) – making existing ICE vehicles a far more sustainable option.
Synthetic fuels are created by combining carbon dioxide, coming either from the renewable manufacturing process or directly from the environment via a process known as air-capture, and hydrogen, which is generated by the electrolysis of water. The resulting hydrocarbon fuel can then be used as what is known as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for standard fossil fuels, and the resulting carbon dioxide produced by the fuel’s combustion in vehicles can even be recaptured to create a synthetic fuel circular economy.
Trade body FuelsEurope, the voice of the European refining industry, which represents the interest of 40 companies operating refineries in the EU, believes that low-carbon liquid fuels will be essential throughout the energy transition and beyond the EUs 2050 goal for climate neutrality – particularly in other areas of the transport sector where electrification does not offer an alternative, such as aviation, maritime and heavy-duty transport. The body’s own pathway to enable emissions reduction from transport was published last year, and suggests that it could enable emissions reductions from transport in 2035 of up to 100Mt CO2/y – a more than significant achievement.
Whilst the idea of full electrification may appear to be a silver bullet solution to transport-related carbon emissions, a mere scratch of the surface reveals that the reality may be more complicated than many believe it to be. To make a tangible impact the bigger picture must be taken into consideration, and by looking at the processes from a wider standpoint, from well-to-wheel as opposed to tank-to-wheel, it is clear that alternative, complementary solutions such as synthetic fuels could have a key role to play in the future.
Datwyler is committed to a sustainable future in the mobility sector, and is a recognized market leader for system-critical engineered elastomer solutions and an experienced partner for electrification projects, dealing with LSR, thermoplastics and the multi-component trend. Datwyler is also strongly involved in projects related to brake-by-wire, fuel cell technology, i.e. bi-polar plates and related sealings, as well as peripherical components and electroactive polymers. Thanks to close engineering relationships with market leaders over decades and strong expertise in Materials Development and Design-to-specification, along with Industrialization Power and Operational Excellence, Datwyler is the right partner for future-oriented new mobility projects.
For more information on how Datwyler can support you with your specific projects and challenges, please visit our Mobility section or send us an email.
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