DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen have announced that they will be involved in a research project with the Freiberg company Choren Industrie GmbH for the manufacture of high-quality fuels from biomass. In this project in the pre-competitive environment, the two automakers intend to make more rapid progress in gaining experience with renewable fuels.

While Volkswagen is initially interested in the production of synthetic fuels (SunFuel) for internal combustion engines, diesel and methanol are at the centre of attention for DaimlerChrysler. In the course of this research project, fuel quality and quantity will also be assessed and a comprehensive energy and materials balance sheet drawn up - from the regional acquisition of biomass, via processing, up to the fuel distribution chain.

Fuels derived from biomass give rise to no additional carbon dioxide, since during combustion only the same quantity of this gas is released as that which is absorbed from the atmosphere by the growing plants.

The various types of regionally derived biomass under investigation in this project are converted into liquid fuels in a multistage process. These fuels are free of aromatic compounds and sulphur. In the first stage, the biomass is processed into biocoke in a cogeneration plant and then further transformed into synthetic gas, from which the desired fuels can then be manufactured.

Speaking in Hannover today, Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, Head of Corporate Research at Volkswagen AG said:  "With this approach, an end to oil supplies does not spell the end of gasoline. Fuels synthetically produced from biomass, such as SunFuel, complete the closed cycle and thus emulate nature. They are free of sulphur and aromatic compounds and are already today excellently suited to environment-friendly application in existing internal combustion engines."

Prof. Herbert Kohler, Head of the Vehicle Body and Drive Systems Directorate at DaimlerChrysler and Corporate Environmental Officer, added: "Securing energy supplies in the long term is one of the key challenges for the future. Without affordable energy, there can be no mobility, no transport of people or goods, no dynamic economy, no freedom of movement. Sustainable mobility - for coming generations, too - is the task at hand."