Recharge Wrap-up: Chevy Volt promos, Audi e-gas partnership

GM is offering promotions on the 2017 Chevrolet Volt. As dealers receive the first shipments of the new model year of the Volt, the automaker is giving customers in certain areas (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) $1,000 cash back on their purchase. GM Financial is also offering lease discounts for a limited time, and trade-ins may be eligible for even more money back. State and federal incentives could add up to make the new Volt quite the bargain for the right customer. Read more at Clean Technica.

The UK’s potential exit from the European Union could mean tighter emissions regulations, potentially even in the UK. While Britain has fought against the EU on stricter rules, the “Brexit” could leave officials in Brussels free to strengthen air quality laws. The UK, despite giving up its seat at the table, would still be beholden to some rules as a member of the European Economic Area free trade agreement. British voters vote on a referendum to leave the EU on June 23. Read more from Bloomberg Business.

Daimler will refrain from investing in battery pack production with other automakers for the time being. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche cites an overabundance of battery production, saying, “Contrary to the expectation four or six years ago when everyone thought that the cells would be a rarity that could even be used as a tool of industrial policy, there is de facto a massive overcapacity in the market today and cells have become a commodity.” Daimler recently shuttered its own lithium-ion battery production due to high costs and low demand. Read more from Automotive News.

Audi is partnering with the Viessmann Group to increase e-gas production using a new biological process. Audi has been making the renewable fuel through a two-part process of electrolysis (splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen) and methanation (reacting hydrogen with CO2 to make synthetic methane). The new biological process uses microoganisms to absorb hydrogen and CO2 to make methane. The process requires lower temperature and pressure, and doesn’t require high concentrations or purity of CO2. Read more in the press release below.

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New method for producing the synthetic fuel Audi e gas

• Biological methanation as a new process technology
• Viessmann Group enters into Audi e-gas production
• End of 2016: Sales launch of the Audi A4 Avant g-tron

Audi is expanding capacities for the production of its sustainably produced e gas. Effective immediately, the Viessmann Group is the first partner company to produce additional quantities of the synthetic fuel in a new type of biological process. The pilot plant in Allendorf in the German state of Hesse was officially opened on Monday.

Audi e gas is generally produced in two key process steps – electrolysis and methanation. In the first step, renewably generated electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In the second step, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 to yield synthetic methane. In the Audi e gas plant in Werlte in the German state of Lower Saxony, this is done using a chemical-catalytic process under high pressure and high temperature.

In the new Viessmann plant, methanation is now purely biological. Highly specialized microorganisms absorb the hydrogen that is dissolved in liquid and the carbon dioxide through their cell walls. From these molecules they then form the new molecule methane. The process is run under a moderate pressure of around five bar and at relatively low temperatures. “We are writing the next chapter of the Audi e gas story here,” said Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at AUDI AG, during the opening celebration. “Audi began to produce the sustainable fuel in Werlte around two years ago. Now we are also working with a partner who immediately contributed this new process.”

The pilot plant sets another technical milestone: It is the first power-to-gas plant to utilize biological methanation across Germany. Its strength lies in the fact that it processes the carbon dioxide contained in the raw biogas directly. Unlike chemical methanation, the CO2 does not need to be present in high concentration or purified form. This opens up new procurement paths. Smaller sewage treatment and biogas plants, in which no biogas purification is performed, can now come into consideration as CO2 sources.

Thanks to the new partnership, Audi will be able to supply a growing number of customers with sustainably produced e-gas in the future. Simultaneously, the brand with the four rings is also extending its line-up of models with natural gas drive. At the end of 2016, sales of the new Audi A4 Avant g-tron* begin in Europe. This is the second CNG model from Audi after the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron*, which has been on the market since the beginning of 2014. Customers can run both g-tron models on gasoline as well as on conventional natural gas, biomethane or the sustainably produced Audi e gas.

The Viessmann Group started up its pilot plant in stages beginning in March 2015. Like the Audi e gas plant in Werlte, it consumes tons of CO2 in the production of the synthetic gas. Participating at the official opening of the plant in Allendorf along with Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at Audi, were the Minister-President of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, and Prof. Martin Viessmann, CEO and partner of the Viessmann Group.

Fuel consumption of the models named above:

Audi A4 g-tron: This car is not yet on sale. It has not yet been homologated and is therefore not subject to the 1999/94/EG guideline.

Audi A3 Sportback g-tron: CNG consumption in kg/100 kilometers: 3.6 – 3.3** (7.9 – 7.3 lb); Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.5 – 5.1** (42.8 – 46.1 US mpg); Combined CO2 emissions in g/km (CNG): 98 – 89** (157.7 – 143.2 g/mi); Combined CO2 emissions in g/km (gasoline): 128 – 117** (206.0 – 188.3 g/mi)

**Fuel consumption, CO2 emission figures and efficiency classes given in ranges depend on the tires/wheels used.

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