Electrofuels, also known as e-fuels or synthetic fuels, are a type of drop-in replacement fuel. They are manufactured using captured carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, together with hydrogen obtained from sustainable electricity sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power.[1]

Electrofuels from renewable energy could replace fossil fuels.

The process uses carbon dioxide in manufacturing and releases around the same amount of carbon dioxide into the air when the fuel is burned, for an overall low carbon footprint. Electrofuels are thus an option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, particularly for long-distance freight, marine, and air transport.[2]

The primary targets are butanol, and biodiesel, but include other alcohols and carbon-containing gases such as methane and butane.


A primary source of funding for research on liquid electrofuels for transportation was the Electrofuels Program of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), headed by Eric Toone.[3] ARPA-E, created in 2009 under President Obama’s Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) attempt to duplicate the effectiveness of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA. Examples of projects funded under this program include OPX Biotechnologies’ biodiesel effort led by Michael Lynch[4] and Derek Lovley’s work on microbial electrosynthesis at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,[5] which reportedly produced the first liquid electrofuel using CO2 as the feedstock. Descriptions of all ARPA-E Electrofuels Program research projects can be found at the ARPA-E Electrofuels Program website.[citation needed]

The first Electrofuels Conference, sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was held in Providence, RI in November 2011.[6] At that conference, Director Eric Toone stated that "Eighteen months into the program, we know it works. We need to know if we can make it matter." Several groups are beyond proof-of-principle, and are working to scale up cost-effectively.

Electrofuels have the potential to be disruptive if carbon-neutral electrofuels are cheaper than petroleum fuels, and if chemical feedstocks produced by electrosynthesis are cheaper than those refined from crude oil. Electrofuels also has significant potential in altering the renewable energy landscape, as electrofuels allows renewables from all sources to be stored conveniently as a liquid fuel.

As of 2014, prompted by the fracking boom, ARPA-E's focus has moved from electrical feedstocks to natural-gas based feedstocks, and thus away from electrofuels.[7]

Towards the end of 2020, Porsche announced its investment in electrofuels, including the Haru Oni project in Chile, creating synthetic methanol from wind power.[8] In 2021, Audi announced that it was working on e-diesel and e-gasoline projects.[9]

By 2021, the European Federation for Transport and Environment advised the aviation sector was needing e-kerosene to be deployed as it could substantially reduce the climate impact of aviation.[10] It was also observing electrofuel usage in cars emits two significant greenhouse gases beyond CO2 captured for the production: methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O); local air pollution was still a concern and it was five times less efficient than direct electrification.[citation needed][11]

According to the eFuel Alliance, the perspective of the lack of efficiency of Electrofuels is misleading as what is critical for global energy transition is not the degree of efficiency of electricity’s end usage, but rather how efficiently electricity can be produced from renewable energies, and then made usable.[12]

See alsoEdit


Books and reportsEdit

  • Royal Society (2019). Sustainable Synthetic Carbon Based Fuels for Transport. London. ISBN 978-1-78252-422-9. OCLC 1181251736.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)


  1. ^ Royal Society 2019, p. 7.
  2. ^ Royal Society 2019, pp. 9–13.
  3. ^ "ELECTROFUELS: Microorganisms for Liquid Transportation Fuel". ARPA-E. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "Novel Biological Conversion of Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide Directly into Free Fatty Acids". ARPA-E. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  5. ^ "Electrofuels Via Direct Electron Transfer from Electrodes to Microbes". ARPA-E. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  6. ^ "SBE's Conference on Electrofuels Research". American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  7. ^ Biello, David (March 20, 2014). "Fracking Hammers Clean Energy Research". Scientific American. Retrieved April 14, 2014. The cheap natural gas freed from shale by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) has helped kill off bleeding-edge programs like Electrofuels, a bid to use microbes to turn cheap electricity into liquid fuels, and ushered in programs like REMOTE, a bid to use microbes to turn cheap natural gas into liquid fuels.
  8. ^ Patrascu, Daniel (2020-12-03). "Future Porsche Cars to Run on eFuels, Motorsport Machines Included". autoevolution. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  9. ^ "Audi advances e-fuels technology: new "e-benzin" fuel being tested". Audi MediaCenter. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  10. ^ "FAQ: the what and how of e-kerosene" (PDF). European Federation for Transport and Environment. February 2021.
  11. ^ Krajinska, Anna (December 2021). "Magic green fuels" (PDF). Transport & Environment.
  12. ^ The FAQ of the eFuel Alliance (You have to go to this question for the source: How efficient is the use of eFuels compared to direct electricity?) https://www.efuel-alliance.eu/faq

External linksEdit