Thursday, August 18, 2005

Implementation of the Volkswagen Fuel Strategy Presses Ahead

Text from Volkswagen AG.
SunFuel®, a synthetic biofuel, on the advance

Energy group Shell obtains a stake in Choren Industries


HAMBURG / WOLFSBURG, Germany - Next to the development of innovative drive concepts, Volkswagen is also focused on the further development of automobile fuels.

In collaboration with the oil industry, the company has set its sights to conserve the world’s limited resources of fossil fuel and protect the environment by reducing fossil fuel with regenerative sources of fuel.

As the first enterprise in the world to produce renewable synthetic fuels, Choren Industries GmbH has been a valuable partner to Volkswagen since September 2002. Choren Group companies have devised the techniques and technologies needed to achieve this aim and have refined them to industrial maturity.

The other key partner involved in the development of alternative fuels is the energy group Shell. Indeed, in June of this year the “Professor Ferdinand Porsche Prize 2005” (the world’s top automotive technology prize in terms of monetary reward) went to Dr Wolfgang Warnecke (Shell) and Dr Wolfgang Steiger (Volkswagen) for designing a fuel made of natural gas (GTL = gas to liquids) and biomass (BTL = biomass to liquids). Synthetic fuels of this kind not only allow new sources of energy to be utilised – thus reducing dependency on petroleum – but also enable combustion which generates a much lower level of harmful emissions.

These development measures aim to obtain additional primary sources of energy to meet the increasing demand for fuel. Primary energy based on natural gas represents the first phase in the generation of GTL – also referred to as SynFuel. Additionally, there are regenerative sources – starting with biomass and thus bio-energy – to be used in a second phase to generate BTL or SunFuel®.

These developments will pave the way for a whole array of possibilities regarding the future of fuels, including the utilisation for fuel generation of natural gas fields, the use of which has been either economically inefficient to date or which have not been used at all. Coal too can be utilised in this way (CTL – coal to liquids) to make fuel for automobiles. In fact, this could be an attractive prospect in many regions of the world, among them China.

The same is true for the biogenetic concept, which incorporates use of a whole host of raw products for the production of liquid fuels.

The exceptional purity of these fuels (also referred to as designer fuels) means they enjoy clear consumption advantages as well – in addition to their benefits in terms of exhaust emissions (a reduction potential of 50% and more). And BTL fuels also have the considerable added benefit of a closed CO2 cycle, since the plants re-bind the CO2 released during engine combustion into biomass. The majority of energy needed for this process is solar sourced.

As a means of lending more weight to the advancement and wider use of synthetic biofuels, Choren and Shell will be working together in even closer collaboration in future.

Volkswagen welcomes this move, since such close co-operation will accelerate realisation of the use of BTL fuels. The availability as soon as possible of synthetic biofuels is an important element within Volkswagen’s future-oriented fuel strategy.

As soon as the manufacturing process has been established and synthetic biofuel is made available in adequate quality and sufficient quantities, Volkswagen will use SunFuel® for the initial fuelling of its new, straight-from-the-factory diesel cars at the production plants.

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