What is e-fuel, this less polluting fuel?

Aurelien Fleurot

The European Union had announced the end of thermal engines in 2035 but backtracked. Germany, Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic refused to give the green light and made a counter-proposal to the European Commission: keep the heat engines and feed them with synthetic fuel.

Germany, Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic surprised the Council of the European Union by refusing to vote on the text acknowledging the end of heat engines by 2035. Instead, they propose to keep the heat engines but to supply them with synthetic fuel. But what is a synthetic fuel?

A less polluting fuel…

Synthetic fuels, also called e-fuels for electro-fuels, are produced from CO2 and electricity. The idea is to recompose a liquid fuel by electrolysis of water, which makes it possible to produce hydrogen, to which you add CO2. You then get an e-fuel.

… at five euros per liter

The main advantage of this fuel is that it is compatible with existing thermal engines and low in pollution, only if the electricity and the CO2 used have been produced in a clean manner. But a problem persists, for the moment, this fuel is expensive: five euros per liter, which could be divided by five in the event of production on an industrial scale.

A process that was developed by two German inventors more than a century ago. Its first massive use dates back to the Second World War.