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Member of Swiss National Councils fills up with sunfire solar diesel to call attention to need for regulatory reform

In an event in Bern, Switzerland, Swiss National Council member and president of the Clean Fuel Now initiative Thomas Böhni filled up his Audi A2 with 100% synthetic diesel (Audi e-diesel) produced by sunfire GmbH to draw attention to the need to remove what he terms unjustified Swiss restrictions on synthetic fuels. In December 2014, Böhni submitted a motion for consideration by the National Council (Nationalrat) that would create the legal basis for importers and manufacturers of vehicles that run on CO2-neutral synthetic fuels made in Switzerland to receive credit for the corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions under fleet emission rules. (Earlier post.)

CO2 + water + renewable energy → e-diesel. Click to enlarge.

Böhni emphasized that the production of climate-neutral fuel is key to climate protection and therefore needs to be given a fair chance; he established the Clean Fuel Now initiative at the Federal Parliament in Bern in late 2014.

Climate change is happening much faster than we thought a few years ago. We are running out of time.

—Thomas Böhni

Dresden-based sunfire’s unique demonstration rig uses regenerative electricity to convert CO2 captured from the air (using technology from Climeworks AG) and water into synthetic fuel with its Power-to-Liquids process. (Earlier post.) Current Swiss national legislation includes sanctions on CO2 emissions from vehicles which run on synthetic fuels—even though they could be net CO2-free.

There is an urgent need for the promotion of synthetic fuels as a means of supplementing e-mobility and smoothing the path towards more environmentally friendly, sustainable mobility. An electric car charged up using coal-fired electricity is less environmentally friendly than an equivalent vehicle with an internal combustion engine that runs on synthetic fuel produced using green energy. It is vital that we start filling our tanks with sun as soon as possible—whether in the form of e-mobility solutions based on regenerative power sources for local public transport networks or climate-neutral synthetic fuels for haulage and long-distance travel.

—sunfire CEO Carl Berninghausen

Both drive concepts will have a key part to play as the switch to electric vehicles progresses over the next few decades, Berninghausen noted.

The refueling event in Bern represents another step forward for the partnership between sunfire GmbH, Audi AG and Climeworks AG. In April, German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka’s official car was symbolically filled with synthetic diesel.

Wanka’s Swiss counterpart Johann Schneider-Ammann, a member of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), used his speech to emphasize Switzerland’s reliance on innovation such as that achieved by sunfire, Climeworks and Audi as a means of safeguarding and strengthening the country’s economic power over the long term.

sunfire GmbH develops and produces high-temperature electrolysis cells (SOECs) and high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) based on its Solid Oxide Power Core (a stack of solid oxide cells). High-temperature electrolysis splits steam into hydrogen and oxygen. It is powered by renewable energy and characterized by a particularly high level of efficiency. The hydrogen produced can either be efficiently converted into fuels using the sunfire Power-to-Liquids process or used without further processing in the H2 mobility or industrial sectors.

sunfire was founded by Carl Berninghausen, Christian von Olshausen and Nils Aldag. The firm is supported by Business Angels, Bilfinger Venture Capital, the ERP Startfonds at KfW, TOTAL Energy Ventures and Electranova Capital (a venture capital fund financed by EDF and Allianz).



Will transporting and burning e-fuels in ICEs produce less CO2 and air pollution than the processus eliminated in the first place?

Is the pollution created to produce the RE, to collect the CO2 and water used fully factored in?

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