Synthetic fuels pollute the environment more than expected according to a study

Car manufacturers and electrosceptics have high hopes for synthetic fuels. But they pollute the environment more than expected, a study shows.

The supplier Continental also develops so-called e-fuels – (photo by Continental)

e-fuels help the climate, but endanger air, water and soil. This is the result of a study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu) on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in Germany.


The scientists examined the total CO2 and pollutant balance of synthetic power-to-x fuels (PtX). In the future, the energy sources are to be used primarily in freight and air traffic, but automobile manufacturers and e-car skeptics also have high hopes for the fuel produced using electricity and CO2. Because e-fuels can be used as petrol and diesel in conventional combustion engines and make them more climate-friendly.

The ifeu study is now slowing down the euphoria. Accordingly, greenhouse gases can be saved with PtX energy sources, but even with 100 percent electricity from renewable sources, their production is associated with considerable environmental pollution. The carbon required for the synthesis must be obtained as CO2 from exhaust gases, the air or from biomass. This results in environmental pollution – from the emission of fine dust and over-fertilization to the acidification of soils and water.

In addition, the construction of the wind and photovoltaic systems, the synthesis facilities and the transport infrastructure require raw materials and are associated with emissions in air and water. However, these problems also apply to the large competitive technology of e-fuels: battery electric cars. The construction of the energy infrastructure also affects their environmental balance.

Contact the author: archiehunt@wheelsjoint.com


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