With the global push toward zero emissions from motor vehicles on our roads, the increased uptake of electric-powered vehicles around the world and the fact that there is only so much oil that can be sucked out of the planet (which is apparently rapidly diminishing as we speak), one has to ask that when the day comes that there is no petrol, what’s going to happen to all the old cars? Will they be able to be driven into the sunset, or will they just rot away?
Have you ever wondered … while we’re investing enormous amounts of money into technology-based electric and hydrogen cell vehicles, is anything being done to replace carbon generating liquid fuels with a clean energy source that will power a 1953 Morris Minor or 1970 Porsche 911?
I’m aware of ethanol additives being used successfully but it’s not advisable to run cars on 100% ethanol, or for that matter, even E10 (10% ethanol 90% unleaded) isn’t suitable for most cars pre-2018, and anyhow the manufacturing process isn’t good for the environment which defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.
So, this is where eFuel comes into the equation. According to Wikipedia:
eFuel or Electrofuels (synthetic fuels) are an emerging class of carbon-neutral drop-in replacement fuels that are made by storing electrical energy from renewable sources in the chemical bonds of liquid or gas fuels. They are an alternative to aviation biofuel. The primary targets are butanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen, but include other alcohols and carbon-containing gases such as methane and butane.
This article from AutoGuide.com investigates eFuel, and investigates Porsche’s involvement in its development, even though Porsche have stated on numerous occasions that they plan to have 80% of their new vehicle line-up electrified by 2030.
An indication of Porsche’s commitment to eFuel and how far they have progressed to date can be seen by the following Porsche Press release on the 14th September 2021:
Construction begins on world’s first integrated commercial plant for producing nearly CO2-neutral fuel in Chile
• Ground-breaking ceremony for the lighthouse Haru Oni project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs
• Porsche will use the nearly CO₂-neutral eFuels in motor sports from 2022
• Preparations for the next major commercial phase already underway
Stuttgart/Munich. Sports car manufacturer Porsche and Siemens Energy have joined forces with a number of international companies to build an industrial plant for the production of nearly CO₂-neutral fuel (eFuel) in Punta Arenas, Chile.
The ground-breaking ceremony for this pioneering project took place in the presence of Chile’s Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet. A pilot plant is initially being built north of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia, which is expected to produce around 130,000 litres of eFuels in 2022. The capacity will then be expanded in two stages to around 55 million litres by 2024 and to around 550 million litres by 2026. The necessary environmental permits have now been obtained by the Chilean project company Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF). Siemens Energy has also already started preparatory work for the next major commercial phase of the project.
“I’m pleased that we’re making progress on this international lighthouse project for the hydrogen economy together with strong international partners from business and politics,” said Armin Schnettler, EVP for New Energy Business at Siemens Energy.
“With Haru Oni, we’re bringing our power-to-X technologies to the global market. We’re jointly developing and realising the world’s first integrated and commercial large-scale plant for producing synthetic, climate-neutral fuels. In southern Chile, we’re implementing one of the energy industry’s most exciting projects for the future and driving forward the decarbonisation of the mobility sector. It means we’re making an important and rapidly effective contribution to reducing CO₂-emissions in the traffic and transport sector.”
Porsche initiated the demonstration project and will be using the eFuels in its own combustion engine vehicles.
“Porsche was founded with pioneering spirit. That’s what drives us, we thrive on innovation,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG.
“We also see ourselves as pioneers when it comes to renewable fuels, and we want to drive development forward. This fits in with our clear overall sustainability strategy. It means that Porsche as a whole can be net CO₂-neutral as early as 2030. Fuels produced with renewable energy can make a contribution to this. Our icon, the 911, is particularly suitable for the use of eFuels. But so are our much-loved historic vehicles, because around 70 percent of all Porsches ever built are still on the road today. Our tests with renewable fuels are going very successfully. eFuels will make it possible to reduce fossil CO₂-emissions in combustion engines by up to 90 percent. Among other things, we’ll be using the first fuel from Chile in our Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race cars from 2022.”
Chile has set itself ambitious targets as part of its National Green Hydrogen Strategy. It plans an electrolyser capacity of 5 gigawatts (GW) by 2025, rising to 25 GW by 2030. The aim is to produce the world’s cheapest hydrogen and develop the country into a leading exporter of green hydrogen and its derivatives.
The Haru Oni project takes advantage of the perfect climatic conditions for wind energy in Magallanes province in southern Chile to produce the virtually CO₂-neutral fuel using low-cost green wind power. In the first step, electrolysers split water into oxygen and green hydrogen using wind power. CO₂ is then filtered from the air and combined with the green hydrogen to produce synthetic methanol, which in turn is converted into eFuel. The pilot plant is scheduled to start production in mid-2022. In addition to Siemens Energy, Porsche and HIF, Enel, ExxonMobil, Gasco and ENAP are participating in the Haru Oni project.
More information about the ‘Haru Oni’ project at: www.siemens-energy.com/haru-oni
You may have noticed that the word ‘nearly’ is used frequently during the release, but it should be noted that Porsche isn’t on their own by supporting eFuel, earlier this year Mazda made this statement:
“As an industry, we must reduce emissions as much as possible, and to do this we must not ignore any of the available routes at our disposal. Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change are, by nature, global and complex issues requiring an integrated approach. All sectors and industries must play their part, and above all, they must have the opportunity to share any positive options to achieving the climate goals.”
“We believe that with the necessary investment, CO2 e-fuels and hydrogen will make a credible and real contribution to emissions reduction – not only for newly registered cars, but for the current fleet. This would open up a second and faster route to achieving climate neutrality in transport, hand in hand with continued electrification.”
The good news out of all this is that the classic old cars in garages around the world will be seen on our roads for many years to come, however I’m not sure that being an ’old e-Fuel head’ sounds as good as being a ‘old petrol head’!