Implementing e-Fuels Detection on ICEs

15 Submissions
Collaboration with Seeker
Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview


Can you collaborate with the Seeker for this Challenge, to develop a technology or process to certify whether vehicles are fueled with e-Fuels or not?

As the world moves towards using more sustainable and renewable energy, our vehicles will need to be developed to run on climate-neutral fuels.

The Seeker, an industrial OEM, is looking for concepts, methods, and technologies that can detect ‘e-Fuels’, created through sustainable or renewable processes. Determining through sensors or other methods whether a fuel is an e-Fuel or not will help to lead the way on the sustainable vehicles of the future, compliant with regulations around emissions and fuel usage.

This is a Scouting Challenge seeking a partner or supplier to provide systems or expertise to solve the Seeker’s business challenge; the Solver is invited to submit a written proposal to be evaluated by the Seeker with the goal of establishing a collaborative partnership.

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Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on September 30th, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered.



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Many cars, trucks, and vehicles utilize engine control units (ECUs) or other management systems to monitor several factors, including fuel composition and type. By using sensors and tracking indicators such as the oxygen sensor, lambda sensor on the exhaust, or fuel composition sensor, your vehicle can warn you about the type of fuel being used.

These sensors are common across vehicle types, using distinguishing factors and detection to report on everything from emission creation, fuel type, presence of gases or compounds, and so on.

In March 2023, an agreement was reached between Germany and the EU Commission about an exemption within the EU ban on sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035. The new regulations impose a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions by the cut-off date, effectively prohibiting purchase of new cars, vans, and road vehicles powered by fossil fuels, such as diesel and petrol.

However, this agreement of exemption would allow sales of new cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs) after 2035, if they run on climate-neutral fuels, also known as ‘e-Fuels’. Developing a sensor that can detect whether a fuel is an ‘e-Fuel’ will lead to guarantees that vehicles are running on this specific, more sustainable fuel type.

e-Fuels, or electrofuels or electro-synthetic fuels, are a type of replacement fuel manufactured by using captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen obtained by sustainable or renewable sources. The carbon is extracted and combined with hydrogen produced through electrolysis, and their synthesis has led to the ‘synthetic fuels’ moniker. Examples of e-Fuels are e-methane, e-methanol, and e-kerosene: compositionally very similar but created with more sustainable practices. Despite e-Fuel combustion resulting in CO2 release, they are considered by many proponents to be climate-neutral in their production and pollution is therefore ‘offset’.

e-Fuels are compositionally very similar to traditional fuels, from a chemical and molecular perspective. This similarity means it is difficult to identify obvious signaled differences unlike the detectors that can, for example, categorize between biofuels (e.g. biodiesel) and traditional fuels.

In order to make the most of this exemption for ICEs that run on e-Fuels, manufacturers might have to develop devices or sensors that distinguish e-Fuels from traditional fossil or oil fuels (e.g. petrol and diesel). This will develop into a program that can ensure that manufacturers’ vehicles and engines are certified as using the correct fuel, being demonstrably compliant to current EU regulation and to anticipate future compliance. 


The Challenge

In this Challenge, the Seeker is searching for collaboration proposals, leading to the detection of whether a fuel is an e-Fuel or not. Use of this method or technology will allow for the Seeker to demonstrate complete compliance to the new EU Commission regulation, for instance by using the proposed approach, e.g. physical or virtual sensors, in a vehicle’s engine.

Generally, e-Fuels are considered ‘drop-in’ with no impact on the engine performance, as long as they are compliant with standard fuel specification (e.g., EN590 for Diesel). Developing an electronic method or standard sensor to detect the type of fuel would enhance the Seeker’s plans to lead the charge on undertaking carbon-neutral activities in their vehicle manufacturing.

Your concepts, solutions or mature technologies should be able to detect whether a vehicle engine is fueled by an e-Fuel or not, through one or more of these options:

  • Vehicle sensors: either physical or virtual, through sensors in the engine, fuel tank, or in the fuel lines.
  • Vehicle operation: by using multiple sensors monitoring engine performance, make-up of gases released as emissions, or other factors.
  • Other solutions: including a certificate or guarantee of origin strategy for manufacturers to show that their vehicle is running exclusively on e-Fuels.

Solutions that can provide chemical comparison as part of their detection are of great interest: however, the Seeker is aware that the similarity between e-Fuels and more traditional fuels will make this difficult.

Solutions that provide a combination of hardware and software for detection are encouraged.



The Seeker is looking for collaboration proposals for devices or systems to detect e-Fuels, for use with existing engines meaning they can continue to be produced after 2035.

In this Challenge, Solvers are encouraged to suggest concepts, solutions or mature technologies, or your knowledge about mature technologies that could be adapted to this context as needed. The collaboration can be based around solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-9: from ideas about WHAT to do, concepts/solutions with HOW to achieve this, and proposals advising about existing mature technologies and/or WHO can provide these.

Proposed solutions leveraged from other industries with similar problems are encouraged.


The Seeker is primarily interested in solutions with the potential to meet the following requirements:

Must have:

  1. Feasibility – your proposal must detect whether a fuel is an e-Fuel or there is the presence of e-Fuels, and be applicable in internal combustion engines (ICEs).
    1. Please detail your solution’s functionality in detail, including where and how detection occurs, with as much proof as possible.
    2. Any solution in this Challenge must meet the burden of proof that it can guarantee or show that a vehicle with this solution will always use, run on, or operate with this e-Fuel type.
  2. Reliability – any submission must be able to detect e-Fuel presence in ICEs with as close as possible to 99% success rate.
    1. Please indicate any indicators of reliability in your proposed solution where possible.
    2. Current sensors for biodiesels detect close to 100%, so it is important for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to have this knowledge of reliability thresholds. If users fail to use the right fuel, there would be fines for both OEMs and potentially for drivers themselves.
  3. Network Benefit – any submission must work in tandem with existing processes. If your solution is located within an engine, it must work with existing engine detection tools such as the oxygen sensors, emissions control systems, and engine management systems.


The Seeker is also strongly interested in proposed concepts, solutions, and technologies that meet the following ‘nice-to-have’ requirements:

  1. Degree of innovation – other options of interest include detection of e-Fuels that can link to other vehicle functions: e.g. stopping fueling with anything other than an e-Fuel; preventing ignition when an incorrect fuel type is used; communicating fuel use to drivers and operators.


The Seeker is open to all possibilities, including opportunities that are available for licensing or involving exclusive rights for the development of the proposed technology.


This is a Scouting Challenge, which has the following features:

  1. The Seeker will evaluate your submission to determine their interest to contact you for further business and collaboration discussions.
  2. If further contact is requested, you can negotiate the terms of the contract (including scope of work, tasks and duration) directly with the Seeker.
  3. The monetary value of any contract will vary depending on the amount of work to be delivered and the agreed upon time frame.
  4. The Seeker may subsequently directly request that certain IP arrangements are agreed should a partnership be pursued.


Your Submission

Please complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and should include:

  1. A brief discussion of the Solver’s general ability to provide the resources listed in the requirements section and information that might be useful to the Seeker. The Solver can withhold proprietary information, if necessary, but should provide enough evidence for the Seeker to appreciate the merits of the approach;
  2. An outline of capabilities and relevant prior experience implementing systems similar to the requirements of this Challenge. This should include:
    1. Previous cases where the solution has been implemented successfully.
    2. The expected benefits of the solution for the purpose of the present Challenge.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on September 30th, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the potential collaboration(s) according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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