About $24 million is being planned to be invested in the development of “e-fuels” by the German auto maker Porsche. According to experts, ‘e-fuel’ is a climate-neutral fuel and is viewed as a replacement of gasoline for nonelectric vehicles.
Development and mass production of such fuel will give a means to the German company as well as other auto makers to continue to manufacture vehicles such as Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car that is powered by the traditional internal combustion engine together with, and even in place of, new age electric vehicles. The driving dynamics of electric vehicles are different than traditional engines even though such vehicles can offer outstanding performance.
“We would like and love cars like the 911 with high-rev combustion engines or turbocharged engines still as cars you could drive in the future without having the burden of a CO2 footprint, an unnecessary CO2 footprint,” Michael Steiner, Porsche’s director of research and development, said Wednesday during a virtual media event.
While acting as a fuel similar to gasoline, e-fuels also allow owners of current and classic vehicles the option of driving vehicles in a more environmentally friendly manner, officials said. Companies and car makers can also continue to use the existing fueling infrastructure as is used for the current fossil fuels instead of firms having to make investments in billions for development of new infrastructure for manufacturing of electric vehicles.
The company however said that there will be no change because of this latest announcement of Porsche to its previously announced target of manufacturing electric models for at least half of its models sold by 2025 which would include all-electric as well as plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Siemens’ renewable energy unit and other international companies such as energy firm AME and the petroleum company ENAP from Chile will partner Volkswagen owned Porsche in investing in this new venture for development of e-fuels.
The plans of the companies include development and implementation of a plant in Chile that the companies expect to yield the “world’s first integrated, commercial, industrial-scale plant” for producing synthetic climate-neutral fuels – popularly known e-fuels.
Production e-fuel from the pilot project is expected to start as early as 2022. The primary customer for the green fuel is expected to be Porsche as the company will initially start use of the new fuel for vehicles for motorsports and those at its driving experience centers.
Renewable wind energy will power the plant and its process which is why the companies chose Chile for setting up of the plant along with the “excellent climate conditions” of the area where the plant is to be set up.
The raw materials of water, hydrogen and carbon dioxide are combined and used in a complex process for producing e-fuels. According to officials, synthetic methanol is produced by first filtering the CO2 from the air and then combined with hydrogen from the water. The resultant product is “renewable methanol” which can be converted to gasoline using an MTG (Methanol to Gasoline) technology, the companies claimed. The MTG technology is to be licensed and supported by Exxon Mobil.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)