Cars that run on a synthetic fuel, made from water and air, represent the cutting-edge of innovation now sweeping the auto industry. In a German factory, Audi is making “e-diesel” that uses— rather than emits—carbon dioxide.

The carbon-neutral fuel contains no sulfur or fossil oil. If it catches on and is produced for a mass market, it could make internal combustion engines much cleaner in the future.

“Synthetic diesel using CO2 is a huge success,” says Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka, who showed her support last week by putting the first five liters (1.3 gallons) into her work car, an Audi A8.

E-diesel is the latest in a slew of breakthroughs aimed at building cleaner cars via carbon-neutral fuels or extended-range batteries. Earlier this month, in research partly funded by Shell*, Virginia Tech unveiled a much more affordable way to produce hydrogen fuel by using discarded corn cobs, stalks and husks.

Alternatively-fueled cars are starting to hit the streets—and racetracks. In California later this year and in Northeast U.S. states next year, Toyota is launching Mirai, a four-door hydrogen-powered sedan that can go up to 300 miles on a full tank and emits nothing but water and vapor from its tailpipe. The Mirai was the first hydrogen-fueled vehicle to enter a NASCAR race on April 25 at the Richmond International Raceway… see more

source: Nationalgeographic News