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Sustainable Synthetic Carbon Based Fuels for Transport


The report considers two types of sustainable synthetic fuels: electro fuels (efuels) and synthetic biofuels. Efuels are made by combining hydrogen (from for example the electrolysis of water) with carbon dioxide (from direct air capture or a point source). Synthetic biofuels can be made from biological material (for example waste from forestry) or from further processing biofuels (for example ethanol).
Whilst synthetic fuels can be “dropped in” to existing engines, they are currently more expensive than fossil fuels and, in the case of efuels, could be thought of as an inefficient use of renewable electricity. However, where renewable electricity is cheap and plentiful, the manufacture and export of bulk efuels might make economic sense.
Key research challenges identified include improving the fundamental understanding of catalysis; the need to produce cheap low-carbon hydrogen at scale; and developing sources of competitively priced low carbon energy are key to the development of synthetic efuels and biofuels. The UK has the research skills and capacity to improve many of these process steps such as in catalysis and biotechnology, and to provide a further area of UK leadership in low-carbon energy.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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