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Synthetic fuels — The next revolution?

A car is being fueled at a gas station.

Up until recently, a carbon-neutral combustion engine was the stuff of dreams. Now it may soon become reality. The secret lies in synthetic or carbon-neutral fuels, whose manufacturing process captures CO₂ — thereby making a significant contribution to limiting global warming.

How it works

For climate targets to be achieved, CO₂ emissions from traffic worldwide will have to be reduced 50 percent over the next four decades, and by at least 85 percent in the advanced economies.

After all, even if all cars were to drive electrically one day, aircraft, ships, and even trucks will still run mainly on fuel. Carbon-neutral combustion engines that run on synthetic fuels are thus a very promising path to explore — also for passenger cars.

2.8 gigatons of CO₂

could be saved by 2050 with the use of synthetic fuels.

Greenhouse gas becomes a raw material

Synthetic, or carbon-neutral, fuels capture CO₂ in the manufacturing process. In this way, this greenhouse gas becomes a raw material, from which gasoline, diesel, and substitute natural gas can be produced with the help of electricity from renewable sources. One further crucial advantage of the combustion engine using synthetic fuels is that the existing filling-station network can continue to be used.
The same applies to the existing combustion-engine expertise. Moreover, even though electric cars will become significantly less expensive in the years ahead, the development of these fuels may be worthwhile. Bosch has calculated that, up to a lifetime mileage of 160,000 kilometers, the total cost of ownership of a hybrid running on synthetic fuel could be less than that of a long-range electric car, depending on the type of renewable energy used.

Image of a fuel pump
Synthetic fuels can be added to conventional fuels — and the existing filling-station network can continue to be used.
Illustration of European continent with text about the aim of the Paris climate agreement to hold the increase in the global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.
Illustration of the globe and a plane, a ship and a truck with explanatory text how renewable energy and electric drive systems are not enough to achieve climate goals.
Illustration of eFuels that could ensure that even combustion engines operate CO2-neutral.
Illustration explaining components for synthetic gasoline, diesel, or kerosine - CO2 and H2.
Illustration explaining how CO2 can be filtered directly from the atmosphere to create eFuel.
Illustration explaining how eFuel can be produced with renewable energy.
Illustration showing a weighing scale explaining that eFuels could make a significant contribution to limiting global warming by 2025.

Synthetic fuels - good to know:


Synthetic fuels can make gasoline- and diesel-powered cars carbon-neutral, and thus make a significant contribution to limiting global warming.

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