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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Smart, Practical, World War II-Era German Synthetic Fuels Technology is in Vogue, Again

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on June 5, 2024

IMAGE: Ferdinand Porsche presents Adolf Hitler with a model of a Volkswagen car | Heinrich Hoffmann/Hulton Archive/Getty Images. The production model Volkswagen ran on synthetic fuel.

OxyNol Solutions (formally known as Masada Resource Group, LLC) developed its core CES OxyNol waste-to-ethanol process by building upon the cellulosic ethanol processes developed and deployed by German scientists during World War II. 

The Germans ran wartime commercial-scale biomass waste-to-ethanol fuel plants in Tornesch, Holzminden, Dessau, Regensburg, Mannheim, Mainz-Kostheim, Hamburg, and Stockstadt am Maim in Germany, as well as plants in Kelheim, Bavaria and Lenzing, Austria during the war.


Germany is not (and never has been) an oil-producing nation.  Adolf Hitler fueled the Nazi war effort from 1940 to 1943 by: (a) occupying the North African countries of Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Algiers, and Tunisia, (b) seizing the oil produced in these former Germany colonies/occupied territories, and (c) shipping this oil back to Germany.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention


After British and American military forces pushed German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel out of North Africa, the Nazis had to find a another way to secure the fuel needed for their war machine and civilian economy. Hitler found the solution to this problem in a cutting-edge German invention known as ersatz, or synthetic fuels.


From 1943 to 1945, the U.S. Office of Military Intelligence sent spies into Nazi Germany to ascertain how Hitler was continuing to fuel his war machine.  The spies discovered that Hitler was making fuel-grade ethanol from wood waste and ordinary household garbage at eight commercial-scale production plants in Germany, one in Bavaria, and one in Austria. 

Hitler was also making V-2 rockets that could strike enemy targets that were far away from German ground positions. These rockets replaced the costs and resources required to transport, arm, and house massive numbers of German troops to Great Britain and other targeted conflict zones in Europe.


The U.S. spies documented the technical operations of Hitler's biomass-to-fuel plants in classified reports.   Their field reports were formalized and presented in two volumes.

After American bombers destroyed Hitler's main synthetic fuel plants in May of 1944, the Nazis knew they were finished. “From a technical production standpoint, the war was lost with the success of these attacks,” said Albert Speer, a Hitler confidant responsible for armaments.


Bringing Nazi Synthetic Fuels Technology Scientists to the United States

After the war ended in 1945, the United States brought two groups of German scientists to Alabama.  The first group were the V-2 rocket scientists, who were taken to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.  These scientists developed rockets for the Department of Defense and the agency that would become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


The second group -- synthetic fuels scientists -- were taken to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  Unlike the research performed by the German rocket scientists, the work of the synthetic fuels scientists at TVA's biomass facilities was classified for many years. The government did not want other nations to learn how they could produce fuels from their own wood waste and household garbage.

At the time, the government did not priority synthetic fuels technology for use at home because gasoline and oil products were cheap and plentiful in the U.S.


Masada Resource Group gained custody of these spy reports after they were declassified by the U.S. government.  They were used in Masada’s extensive research and pilot testing work at TVA from 1998 to 2002 to develop the CES OxyNol waste-to-fuel process for commercial use at home and abroad. 

Masada’s refinements and enhancements to the German cellulosic ethanol template made the process more efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly.  Additionally, OxyNol Solutions is able to use any nation’s existing waste management infrastructure and normal garbage flow to produce clean synthetic fuels and other commercial byproducts.  

Deploying Synthetic Fuels Technology Around the Globe

The CES OxyNol process enables OxyNol Solutions (and its licensees) to produce clean, fuel-grade ethanol anywhere in the world for less than $0.82 per gallon (inclusive of capital costs for construction of the production facility). There are 3.8 liters of fuel in a gallon of gas. In most countries, fuel is sold in liters. Today, fuel is $1.25 per liter in South Africa, where OxyNol Solutions is currently working. OxyNol Solution's ethanol-based fuels can be produced, sold, and consumed, all in-country.

The TVA biomass pilot plant facilities and equipment used by Masada to develop the CES OxyNol process were purchased by Masada affiliate Pencor Orange Corp. in 2007 and subsequently donated to Auburn University.   

Auburn University was Masada’s research and development partner for the development of mill sludge-to-ethanol technology and biomass aviation fuels. Masada also sponsored Auburn's published research these synthetic fuels in the prestigious Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 2010, 49, 5969–5976.

Today, the German waste-to-fuel technology that was once used to power the Nazi's war machine is now being introduced on a commercial scale around the world for benevolent purposes of nation-building and energy independence.


At OxyNol Solutions, we are excited to be leading the international rollout of this second-generation, paradigm-shifting, clean fuels technolog. Our strategic busniess alliance partners around the world are the "best of the best" companies in the clean fuels business.


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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jun 05

The state of Alabama built the University of Alabama at Huntsville because the Nazi rocket scientists brought there after World War II refused to use the engineering facilities at racially segregated, all-black, Alabama A&M university to support their rocket research and development activities. They viewed all blacks to be inferior to the Aryan race. Indeed, black Germans were holocaust victims who were imprisoned in concentration camps, tortured, subjected to inhumane medical experiments, and exterminated. The state of Alabama gladly accommodated these Nazi collaborators in a way that furthered their racist beliefs about blacks.

Kamar Jones
Kamar Jones
Jun 07
Replying to

Never thought about that and it makes sense. There is a book out about Hans Massaquoi grew up in Nazi Germany as a black. He eventually became editor of Jet and Ebony magazine. I haven't read or listened to the audio book, but plan to do so soon.

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