Audi researchers have managed to do something that at first blush sounds impossible, or at least, highly illogical:  Without using any petroleum whatsoever, they’ve created a small batch of synthetic gasoline.  

And they’re working to tweak the process so they can create the fuel using nothing but water, hydrogen, sunlight, and carbon dioxide.

Audi’s “e-benzin” is a fully synthetic 100-octane gasoline equivalent. Since it’s synthetic, it contains no sulfur or benzene, making it extremely clean-burning. With its research partner Gloabl Bioenergies, Audi has figured out how to create the synthetic fuel from biomass, or plant material, making the fuel carbon-neutral.

An Audi spokesperson tells us that, as of right now, the experiment has only produced a small amount of the fuel—think liters, not tanker trucks—and the next step is to test its performance in internal combustion engines in a lab setting. It’s a line of experimentation that Audi has been particularly focused on, having recently figured out how to synthesize diesel fuel from water and CO2 and operating a production facility thatmakes synthetic methane out of water, hydrogen, and CO2 to fuel the CNG-powered A3 Sportback g-tron.

The next step in the synthetic gasoline project is to figure out how to eliminate the biomass requirement entirely, the goal being to produce e-benzin from water, hydrogen, CO2, and solar-derived power. That, and maybe figure out how to produce it in quantities that will give old-fashioned dinosaur-derived gasoline some legitimate supply competition.

Image and article via Car and Driver