Terminology used for renewable liquid and gaseous fuels based on the conversion of electricity: A review

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As the transport sector transitions away from fossil fuels and renewable fuels shift into focus, it is important that the terminology around renewable fuels is clarified. A number of terms such as synthetic fuel and electrofuel are used to describe both renewable and alternative fuels. The aim of this article is to identify and review these terms to avoid any potential misuse. An integrative review of terminology has been made. This review did not differentiate the articles in terms of the methodologies applied, but had the main objective to identify the terminology used and its definition. The results confirm that the term synthetic fuel is used generically in the majority of articles, without providing information about the production process of the fuel or differentiating between fossil-based and renewable-based synthetic fuels. The majority of the articles use the term synthetic fuel to describe fuels produced with coal-, gas- and biomass-to-liquid (xTL) technologies. However, a number of articles use the term beyond this definition. Results for the term electrofuel gave a similar outcome, as it was not clear which processes were used for the fuel production. In some cases, both synthetic and electrofuel referred to fuels produced through the same process, even though in reality the two processes are distinctly different. This could lead to a misinterpretation, especially if the terminology is utilized by policymakers. To prevent this, the article ends with a preliminary proposal for how to differentiate synthetic fuels from electrofuels based on the production process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)3709-3720
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2016

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