MEES Minute: Green fuels will enable decarbonization of the legacy fleet

A recent news article published by Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) described a viable path for decarbonizing the legacy fleet if consumers fail to adopt EVs. The challenge of switching to electric vehicles (EVs) is that there are over one billion internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles in the world, with an average age of 12.2 years in the United States. Despite new hybrid-electric cars, ICE-powered vehicles are expected to enter the market by 2035 and beyond. Although some strategies such as out-of-reach tailpipe regulations, CO2 taxes, trade-in “clunker” scrapping schemes and combustion-vehicle user fees are proposed to cleanse the global parc of its enormous piston-engine legacy, ending sales of ICE vehicles won’t solve the vehicle emissions challenge. An eclectic approach using a combination of technologies such as ICE, hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell EVs, including low-carbon fuels such as synthetic and so-called electrofuels (e-fuels), are needed to achieve zero emissions as quickly as possible. eFuels, liquid or gaseous fuels produced with electricity from renewables and/or biomass, can be used in existing infrastructure and can progressively lower the carbon intensity of fuel, making a net-zero carbon fuel possible.