Sparesbox Blog

Bosch Touts Synthetic Fuels as the Future of the Internal Combustion Engine

By Brad Nash

Wed Aug 30 2017

Debate has long raged over whether the engine as we know it is on its way out as electric cars become a more mainstream form of transportation. And while here at Sparesbox we’re all about anything that revolutionises the car industry, part of us would inevitably be sad if the ICE one day found itself obsolete.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that things have to change. Our methods of producing and using fuel are putting an increasing strain on our planet and its resources, as are the ways we build and manufacture engines for cars themselves.

So, what’s the answer to the eternal automotive dilemma? The vast team of boffins at Bosch think they may have cracked the case.

A new study released by Bosch has recommended further investment and investigation into the production of synthetic fuels, going so far as to say that should the right steps be taken, the production of said fuel could even make the use of the internal combustion engine in cars entirely carbon neutral.

Bosch say the process would involve the use of hydrogen, captured from water, and carbon, captured from the air or recycled from industrial sources. Through combining the two in plants that could be potentially even be powered by renewable energy, all kinds of fuels can be made, including petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene.

As modern engines become cleaner and more efficient at burning these fuels, this could pave the way for a world where the internal combustion engine exists in a truly-eco-friendly way. The cherry on the top is that these fuels can be engineered to run entirely soot-free, and due to their basic chemical structure being the same as the fuel we use today, there’s no reason that they can’t be used in existing vehicles.

It also trumps some alternative methods of fuel production that have been suggested as the way forward. As said before, it can be produced in an entirely carbon neutral manner, and unlike today’s methods of creating petrol and even biofuel, it doesn’t require land or resources to make.

The only kicker, naturally, is the price. With renewables of this nature still very much in an experimental phase throughout Europe, it will be a long and costly process before synthetic fuel ever reaches Australian shores. It’s currently under going pilot runs in Germany and Norway, with test plants opening at a slow rate across the globe.

Bosch says the only way to drive the process forward is through further investment and incentives required to make production a more efficient process. With more production, more streamlined manufacturing techniques and better prices on the renewable energy required to manufacture Synthetic fuel, its price could quite easily drop to levels on par with commercial fuel, something that could be vital with the vast amounts of transport that still relies on the internal combustion engine as a source of power.


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