Earlier this year, Kia and Hyundai Motor (the parent group), decided to shift all of their focus onto electric vehicle (EV) development. Both automakers, Kia Corp especially, have been already making the move towards EVs and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Kia Corp launched the Kia EV6, its first all-electric vehicle with no predecessor. A few months later, and Hyundai Motor Co has dug in deep with a new collaboration overseas. Hyundai Motor has agreed with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to work together to research and develop a new advanced fuel for an ultra lean-burn, spark-ignition engine. Wait, what? That sounds like a gasoline engine.
“BEVs and [fuel cell electric vehicles] FCEVs will be Hyundai Motor Group’s ultimate technologies to achieve carbon neutral mobility, while eco-friendly ICE technology that combines eco-friendly fuel and ultra-lean burn engine will be the key to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions during our transition to EVs,” – Alain Raposo, Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor Group, leading the Electrified Propulsion Technical Unit
They’re calling it “e-fuel”, and while making the transition from gasoline vehicles to EVs, BEVs, and FCEVs, the auto group is also focusing on minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. What is “e-fuel”? It holds many similarities with FCEVs. A fuel cell vehicle typically uses hydrogen as the main fuel source. All one needs is a little water, run through some electricity through it to separate the molecules from one another – hydrogen and oxygen – and blam! That’s two, natural, and powerful gases to burn. E-Fuel is similar, except this power source requires hydrogen made from water electrolysis (known as green hydrogen) and carbon dioxide.
Using CO2 as a fuel source to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted? The math checks out, but not the science. Carbon dioxide can break down into carbon and oxygen, but the energy needed to do that will cause problems. Thermodynamics can tell us that, if anything, more CO2 will be created in the process. Not only this, but how will Hyundai omit the methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) also emitted during such processes. Regardless, Hyundai Motor claims this new e-fuel will result in 80-percent lower emissions from ignition to exhaust. E-fuel is supposed to be a more eco-friendly source that increases thermal efficiency and fuel economy when compared to conventional automobile engines.
Over the next two years, the joint partnership between the three aforementioned parties will work together to develop an advanced fuel for use in a new type of combustion system. Aramco will be using its advanced fuels technology to design the formulation of e-fuel, while KAUST will be in charge of modeling and verification of technologies, like engine testing for example. The Hyundai Motor Group as a whole is aiming for carbon neutrality by reducing the carbon emissions generated by conventional petroleum fuels and expects this technology will be the key to new engine technology. Hyundai and Kia have announced their Carbon Neutrality 2045 roadmaps in the past, with the goal of making all of their products carbon neutral by the year 2045.
Carbon neutral is a term not really understood. It doesn’t mean “zero carbon”. What this is, is when a company or entity cancels out how much carbon emissions they emit by investing in an equal amount of carbon reduction elsewhere. This may be why the Hyundai Motor Group is still working on gasoline engines, just with less harmful emissions generated. All-in-all, they’re trying to achieve a better and more sustainable future while working towards the production of more and new EVs and BEVs. Looking for more news on what Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp are working on? You can stay up to date when you follow us on Miami Lakes Kia social media.