Image Credits: Pavel Kubarkov/shutterstock.com
Clean technology refers to any product, process, or mechanism that maximizes the use of natural resources, specifically limiting the exploitation of non-renewable resources and tending to more sustainable alternatives. A consequence of the seemingly immeasurable number of technological advances and scientific discoveries in today’s time is the threat posed on environmental sustainability. The news of the gradually deteriorating atmosphere and significant increases in carbon footprints have enabled environmental scientists to develop innovations that better utilize natural resources.
A significant development in clean technology is the generation of electricity-based fuels that promote de-carbonization (reduced production of carbon gases) when integrated with renewable power and certain environmental conditions. At present, several uses and applications of e-fuels have been discovered and presented in the market; however, researchers are keen on exploring more potential uses of e-fuels. Presented below are specific applications of e-fuels as proven by numerous empirical studies.
Electricity-based fuels are comparable with fossil fuels in that they are compatible with existing power systems, energy-dense, and transport-enabled. This makes e-fuels easy to store in large batches over an extended period of time, allowing the material to compensate for traditionally-made fuels when there are supply fluctuations and energy destabilization issues. Alongside this, vehicles primarily using petrol, diesel, or kerosene are only provided expanded options for clean technology because e-fuels do not disrupt the mechanism of vehicles that operate using such traditional fuels.
E-fuels could also be used in utility vehicles, aviation, and shipping. The use of electricity-based fuels yields 4 to 6 times better energy efficiency, making e-fuels a crucial and relevant factor in creating more sustainable transportation solutions; however, one disadvantage of e-fuels in transportation is high conversion losses, making some e-fuels relatively more expensive than traditional consumer fuel products. To account for this, new interventions should thus focus on maximizing e-fuels, through integration with new technologies and other available environmentally-sustainable compounds, for better transport outcomes.
Plant Design and Operations
Solar and wind generation, which e-fuels could work with, yield relatively lower production costs and environmental consequences. As such, newer plants are now utilizing power-to-fuel mechanisms that aim to target lower electricity costs and production expenses. The use of e-fuels in enabling such design is an important factor in ensuring that plant operations remain loyal to these operational practices.
In recent years, regulations on plant and machinery operations have also been strict on the usage of toxic and harmful chemical substances. As a response, companies began adapting green technologies in their working environment in order to reduce harmful effects of plant processes both on humans and the environment. In utilizing e-fuels (instead of oil) in regular operations, plants would also yield the same quality products, but with less harmful effects.
Future Applications of Using e-Fuels
The major benefit of using e-fuels rather than typical consumer fuel products is its impact on environmental sustainability and renewable energy. Researches on the effects of e-fuels found that the utilization of such product could significantly reduce the continuously growing negative effects of diesel, oil, and petroleum on the environment. Pollution and air quality were also found to improve after a prolonged usage of e-fuels both in the transportation and operational sectors.
While e-fuels have already established its significance in at least two sectors, researchers are still conducting studies on the use of the product in other fields. Contemporary studies on e-fuels discovered that hydrogen could be integrated with the compound in order to produce more energy-saving solutions for the future. By 2050, researchers are expecting to see a boost of hydrogen shares of at least 35% in the total energy demands of renewable energy. A successful integration of hydrogen and e-fuels are expected to solve the high conversion losses found in many e-fuel applications.
Sources and Further Reading