Alternative fuels

Alternative fuels
© Shutterstock/Egorov Artem
Fraunhofer IBP has a comprehensive repertoire of knowledge and of system models that enable ecological assessment of the process chains, the energy carriers used, and the framework conditions required for system integration.

Mobility is an important part of our everyday lives; this extends both to individual mobility in the automobile and to the transport of people and goods by road or rail, by ship, or in aviation. Mobility requirements, and thus also transport volumes, will continue to increase in future. Today’s drive concepts are dependent above all on the use of crude oil-based fuels. To secure and sustainably improve mobility in the long term, future drive concepts must rely on a greater variety of utilizable energy carriers. One approach here is the electrification of the drivetrain. In addition, alternatives to fossil fuels must be promoted in order to avoid a long-term shortage of finite resources. Currently available alternatives include for example biogas, biodiesel, and hydrogen.

The provision of ecologically suitable alternatives to conventional fuels requires extensive knowledge of the process chain of fuel production and of the respective energy carriers. Moreover, assessment of the ecological added value entails case-specific analysis that includes consideration of the area of application, the framework conditions, and the interplay of all parameters in the overall system. Life Cycle Assessment ensures that the ecological impact is evaluated over the entire life journey, thereby avoiding ecologically unfavorable solutions. The Working Group on Energy and Mobility is concerned with the ecological assessment of conventional and alternative fuels. Points of emphasis are for example the analysis of various fuel production technologies and systems, such as refinery technology and the electrolysis of water. Further projects are concerned with methods for the assessment of alternative fuels in a Life Cycle Assessment.

The findings from these investigations allow Life Cycle Assessment guidelines to be drawn up for specific fuels, which regulate procedures for the individual steps and calculation methods used for preparing Life Cycle Assessments for a given groups of products, for example in hydrogen production. These guidelines ensure that all relevant influencing factors are taken into account in the Life Cycle Assessment. The comparability of the results of such assessments is thereby enhanced.