Ready for tomorrow, today
COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG) and BIOMETHANE are the hidden champions of alternative fuels. In terms of technology and protecting the environment, they are already meeting the needs of the future, today. Yet, the fuels still hold enormous potential for the future. In one study conducted by the German Energy Agency (dena), around 1.4 million natural gas vehicles are expected to be on the road in Germany by 2020.
Refueling is also secured: According to experts, there’s enough of the natural resource to last almost seven decades – with more deposits being discovered all the time. In addition, the fuel already has renewable counterparts in BIOMETHANE and synthetic CNG. BIOMETHANE is produced from natural and agricultural waste, making it an inexhaustible source of fuel. The same is true for synthetic CNG, which can be produced from excess wind and solar energy.
Biomethane: the fuel of the future – made in Germany
Manure, organic waste, corn and grain in particular are used to produce BIOMETHANE. The biomass is fermented in the absence of light and oxygen in a so-called fermenter. The resulting biogas is refined in a processing plant. The methane content is increased so that the quality and purity of the biogas is equivalent to that of natural gas. The resulting BIOMETHANE is then transported through a 445,000-kilometer-long pipeline network to the filling stations.
This fuel of the future is already on offer at many stations in various admixtures. Natural gas vehicles can fill up with BIOMETHANE with no problems – regardless of the mix proportion. The environment reaps the benefit as the already small CO2 footprint of CNG shrinks even further. A 20 percent blend of BIOMETHANE drops CO2 emissions by around 30 percent compared to gasoline, while a full tank of pure BIOMETHANE reduces emissions by up to 97 percent, according to a study conducted by the German Energy Agency (dena). The economy also benefits since all BIOMETHANE in use is produced exclusively in Germany, thereby strengthening regional economies.
The advantages for using BIOMETHANE in the transport sector are clear
- Greater independence from fossil fuel sources
- Regional value creation
- Minimal carbon footprint
THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY HEARS THE CALL
The automotive industry has realized that COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG) is the fuel of the future. There is already a wide range of models in different types and makes on the market. From compacts to trucks, there's something for everyone – for any style or need.
Natural gas network of the future: synthetic natural gas from wind and solar power
Over the past decade, an average of approximately 2.3 billion EUR per year has been invested in the further development of the natural gas infrastructure. Germany’s 445,000-kilometer-long natural gas pipeline network not only ensures the availability of CNG in all regions of the country, but also transports around twice as much energy as the electricity grid.
Storing wind and solar energy
The issue of storing and distributing wind and solar power is becoming increasingly important. One solution is the natural gas grid: Green power – which is not always needed at the time when the wind is blowing or sun shining – can be stored in Germany’s largest energy storage facility, the natural gas network, using new, innovative processes. The first step is to use excess wind or solar energy to carry out electrolysis – the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Afterwards, the hydrogen reacts with carbon dioxide, producing renewable methane. Chemically, it is nearly identical to natural gas and can be transported via the natural gas network to more than 900 natural gas filling stations throughout Germany, where natural gas drivers can use it to refuel their vehicles.
The automotive energy revolution
Audi is the first car manufacturer to join in the production of synthetic CNG in Germany. Their goal is to soon offer this renewable fuel under the name "e-gas". The Ingolstadt-based group is currently constructing a power-to-gas plant in Werlte in Lower Saxony to carry out the project. The CO2 required for fuel production comes from a nearby biogas plant run by EWE AG, a member company of erdgas mobil GmbH.
According to Audi, around 1,000 tons of e-gas will be produced annually. The group’s first factory-fitted natural gas car, the Audi A3 TCNG Sportback, will arrive at dealerships at the end of 2013.
The future of LNG – liquified natural gas for increased range
LNG, or LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS, is ripe for the German market. Natural gas liquefies at -163 °C under normal pressure. Due to its higher density (600m3 of natural gas = 1m3 of LNG), driving distances of over 1,000 kilometers are feasible, making LNG particularly suitable for long-distance and heavy transport.
The benefits speak for themselves: With global production capacity on the rise and the use of more efficient production processes, the price of LNG will remain low in the long term. Current tank technology is ready: For example, cryogenic stainless steel tanks can keep LNG cold for over ten days. In addition, LNG is already a proven alternative to diesel and reduces oil dependence.
The case for LNG as fuel
- LNG will remain cheaper than diesel in the long term.
- Using LNG reduces CO2 emissions along the entire supply chain (including liquefaction and transport) by up to 25 % compared to diesel.
- Noise emissions of LNG vehicles are up to 50 % lower than a comparable diesel engine vehicle.
- Thanks to standardized couplings, refueling is just as fast and easy as with diesel vehicles.
- Regular vehicle and filling station operations incur no methane loss.
- LNG technology is already tried and tested in much of Europe and the U.S. In the U.S. alone, there are thousands of natural gas-powered trucks and over 100 filling stations.
- LNG vehicles are equipped for the Euro VI stand