A. Ramirez, S. M. Sarathy, J. Gascon
Trends in Chemistry 2, 9, 785-795, (2020)
The transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of total CO2 emissions and consumes more than 50% of the total liquid hydrocarbons produced, with more than 95% of the sector today continuing to rely on liquid hydrocarbons.
There is an imminent need to commercialize low-carbon or carbon-neutral liquid hydrocarbon fuels using renewable H2 and CO2 as the building blocks, the so-called e-fuels.
To completely replace the use of petroleum hydrocarbons, it is important for e-fuels to be fully (or to require very minor adaptations to be) compatible with existing fuel distribution infrastructure and vehicle technologies, such that they are literally drop-in replacements.
This short opinion article highlights the necessary properties that e-fuels should display to become a drop-in alternative to traditional petroleum-derived fuels and revisits the current trends and limitations in the field of CO2 conversion to fuels.
CO2-neutral fuels (e-fuels) are considered to be a pragmatic and practical way of decreasing overall CO2 emissions derived from the transportation sector. However, for e-fuels to succeed and have a short-to-medium impact on climate mitigation, they should be fully compatible with existing fuel distribution infrastructure and vehicle technologies, such that they become literally drop-in replacements. In this short opinion article, we first highlight the necessary properties that e-fuels should display to become a drop-in alternative to traditional petroleum-derived fuels. With this information in hand, we revisit the current trends and limitations in the field of CO2 conversion to fuels, highlighting the many misconceptions that the scientific literature has created over the past few years. Finally, we share our view on future research strategies that may help to realize the widespread implementation of e-fuel technology.