28. November 2018

"Zero CO2 Mobility" – International FEV Specialist Conference on Sustainable and CO2-Neutral Mobility

Zero CO2 Mobility Conference

150 attendees accepted the invitation to this year’s "Zero CO2 Mobility" Conference in Aachen; source: FEV Group

Aachen, November 2018 – Experts are increasingly in agreement that electrification is indeed an important – but in no way sufficient – means of achieving CO2-neutral mobility in the foreseeable future. With the aim of discussing a legal framework and potential solutions with experts, FEV extended an invitation to the "Zero CO2 Mobility" conference in Aachen on November 13 and 14, 2018. 

Following the successful establishment of the platform in 2017, this year as many as 150 attendees from widely diverse areas of the industry once again accepted the invitation issued by international vehicle developer FEV. Experts from the automotive and energy industries, research and development, the fuel industry, and government discussed possible solutions for ensuring CO2-neutral mobility. 

"To hit the Paris 2050 climate targets, the transport sector in particular will have to offer pioneering ways to reduce CO2 emissions," said Professor Stefan Pischinger, President & CEO of the FEV Group and sponsor of the conference. 

The conference attendees were in agreement that creative impulses are necessary and no one way by itself can achieve the objective. "It is indisputable that the future will be electrified, but even though strictly electric vehicles are constantly improving in terms of costs and range, additional solutions are required – e.g. for long distances, as well as in heavy-load and air traffic," according to Professor Stefan Pischinger.

With synthetic fuels, or e-fuels, at the conference, a promising solution in addition to the fuel cell and strict electrification was made the subject of discussion. When fully considering the CO2 emissions from production and vehicle operation ("well to wheel"), the operation of combustion engines with e-fuels is climate neutral, meaning that these fuels have the potential to enable an efficient and rapid achievement of "CO2-free driving." The special advantage lies in the possibility of mixing it with existing fuels and therefore of using the existing infrastructure.

The challenges of e-fuels persist in the efficiency chain and in their manufacturing costs. At this year’s Zero CO2 conference, FEV showed that with an optimized manufacturing process and better fuel selection, depending on the driving conditions being considered, the e-fuel "well-to-wheel" efficiency level can be around 50 percent of the electric power directly used in the e-vehicle. The production costs of e-fuels are also currently an additional challenge. "A staggered start of e-fuel production with small, local facilities would be sensible, as has been proven in the past with wind turbines," advised Dr. Norbert W. Alt, Chairman of the Management Board of FEV Europe GmbH. He added, "using this strategy, we can comprehensively initiate the production process without having to wait for general decisions."

An essential prerequisite for the general market launch of e-fuels is – as the discussions at the conference showed – that OEMs, the oil industry, and energy providers agree upon an e-fuel standard on which the focus of development will be placed in the future. On this basis, politics should then define the legal framework conditions that are geared toward the Paris climate goals and which require investments – both in electrification ("tank-to-wheel") and energy provision ("well-to-tank").

In addition, the latest trends in drive electrification were introduced in various presentations by OEMs. A variety of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) will go into serial production in the next few years. In this context, a significant increase in the electric range and fast-charging infrastructure was announced. In the medium term, it is to be expected in this context that there will be a transition in battery cell technology from lithium ion to solid state. Another approach was presented with electric vehicles with a battery range extended using solar panels in the bodywork.

"Many challenges remain on the path to zero emissions. But, the right solutions are already on the table, and now they need to be implemented by government and industry. With our Zero CO2 Mobility Conference, we want to continue offering the appropriate platform for the discussion for that goal–in the coming year as well," stated Professor Pischinger.