Besides developing fuel-saving and environmentally friendly drive systems, we are also involved in research and testing of alternative fuels, which provide us with another important means for avoiding emissions and becoming more independent of fossil energy sources.
H2 Mobility. In the autumn of 2013, we already made concrete plans for a nationwide network of H2 filling stations as part of the “Initiative H2 Mobility,” which envisages around 400 public hydrogen fueling stations by 2023. The goal is to offer an H2 fueling station for every 90 highway kilometers between urban centers. Furthermore, according to the planning, at least ten hydrogen filling stations will be available in each metropolitan region starting in 2023. The total investment requirement for the project will come to E350 million.
Bioethanol from straw. In a pilot project we are examining a new biofuel jointly with two specialty chemicals companies: With sunliquid20, a premium gasoline containing 20 percent cellulose ethanol, up to 20 percent less crude oil is supposed to be needed in the future. Gasoline with 20 percent ethanol content can already be used in our Blue DIRECT gasoline engines today.
sunliquid20 – bioethanol from straw
The vision of fuels from sustainable sources could soon become a reality. Since January 2014, Mercedes-Benz has been testing a second-generation ethanol in a fleet test in collaboration with the special chemicals companies Clariant and Haltermann. The sunliquid20 fuel being tested is a premium gasoline mixed with 20 percent cellulosic ethanol. The special feature: The bioethanol is produced from agricultural waste such as straw.
Until the end of 2014, the vehicles of the Mercedes-Benz test fleet could fill up with sunliquid20 at a specially equipped fueling station situated on the plant grounds in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The new fuel guarantees optimal efficiency with a high octane rating (RON) of more than 100. In future, the use of straw-based bioethanol will lead to a 20 percent reduction in crude oil consumption.
Our fuel roadmap
Daimlers fuel roadmapDaimler has set itself the goal of offering vehicles which are as fuel-efficient and environmentally compatible as possible. However, in order to reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicle traffic it is necessary to work not just on the vehicles but also on the fuels. For us, optimized and alternative fuels are another important way to avoid emissions and become more independent of fossil sources of energy:
- Conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel will continue to play a key role in the years ahead. Therefore, work must continue to make high-quality sulfur-free fuels available worldwide.
- GTL (gas-to-liquid) fuels are among the cleanest and highest-quality fuels for internal combustion engines. Free of sulfur and aromatic compounds, they can be optimally adapted to the requirements of the engine. The well-to-wheel CO2 emissions are comparable to those of mineral fuels.
- CNG (compressed natural gas) is a good option in our view specifically for high-mileage vehicles. In the well-to-wheel balance, natural gas gives rise to about 20 percent less CO2 emissions than gasoline and has advantages over diesel where the reduction of pollutant emissions is concerned.
- Hydrogen is the energy source of our fuel-cell automobiles. Global hydrogen requirements have until now been largely met through steam reformation from natural gas. Since CO2 emissions are generated in this process, suitable ways must be found to produce the hydrogen from renewable sources.
- First-generation biofuels like bioethanol and biodiesel are useful options for the short to medium term when blended with conventional fossil fuels, as long as their manufacture does not negatively impact food production and the use of natural resources.
- Hydro-treated vegetable oils (HVO) are low in emissions and are already manufactured on an industrial scale. The cultivation of biomass must be carried out in conformity with sustainability standards (such as the sustainability directive for biofuels) in order to ensure a positive environmental performance. HVOs can be mixed with diesel fuel without restriction and are suitable for use as an interim solution until second-generation biofuels are introduced.
- Second-generation biofuels such as BTL (biomass-to-liquid) fuel and ethanol from raw materials such as straw (lignocellulose) will grow in importance as soon as they can be produced on an industrial scale. They have great potential in terms of sustainability and CO2 savings, since they enable producing higher crop yields – three to four times the volume of first-generation biofuels per hectare. Moreover, different kinds of biomass (no monocultures) and biological waste materials can be used. Thus, their production does not compete with the cultivation of food crops and renders “food or fuel” debates superfluous. In addition, BTL fuel in particular exhibits outstanding characteristics in terms of quality, which are required to ensure the environmental benefits of advanced drive system concepts over their entire service life. In our view, an important prerequisite for the production of more second-generation biofuels is broad-based support for the mineral oil industry through government incentives.
In addition to BTL fuels and ethanol from lignocellulose, the highest energy yields per hectare can be achieved with biogas (compressed biogas or CBG) from renewable resources. Vehicles running on natural gas can utilize CBG without any technical modifications. The biogas is produced by anaerobic fermentation of biomass, liquid manure, and wastewater. Depending on the biomass and the production process used, biogas can reduce well-to-wheel emissions of greenhouse gases by up to 80 percent.
- Hydrogen and electricity produced using renewable resources are the fuels of the future. When used to power fuel-cell or battery-driven vehicles, they guarantee emission-free and CO2-free mobility. Production processes for hydrogen as a renewable resource are, for example, electrolysis using electricity derived from renewable sources (hydropower, wind and solar energy, and geothermal power) or biomass gasification.
Online tool OPTIRESOURCE calculates energy balance
OPTIRESOURCE – energy balance from well to wheel
In order to calculate the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of different drive technologies, fuels, and energy sources, we have developed the online tool OPTIRESOURCE. It permits examining these from the energy source to the driven wheel (well-to-wheel). On the basis of comprehensive energy balance studies, it is possible to examine different combinations of energy sources, fuels, and vehicle drive systems. The result shows the energy balance of the chosen combination in comparison with a current gasoline-powered compact car.
More information: http://www2.daimler.com/sustainability/optiresource/