Starting point for Porsche synthetic fuel

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Porsche, Siemens Energy, Exxon Mobil, Enel Green Power, the Chilean national energy company ENAP and Empresas Gasco gave the start to synthetic gasoline. More than 13,000 kilometers from Paris, in the Magallanes region of Chile, the first e-fuel production plant has just opened its doors and poured its first liters into a car’s tank. Here, at the southern tip of the country, not far from Cape Horn, the winds are so strong (270 days a year) that large-scale production of a solution using wind energy, water and CO2 is possible, to replace the traditional refinery.

Porsche has been talking about its e-fuel for years and has invested several hundred million dollars in its development. In the new plant, production will be exponential until 2026. From 130,000 liters produced per year in 2023, the site will increase to 55 million liters in 2024. Two years later, it will be necessary to multiply everything by 10 again: 550 million liters of synthetic fuel planned for 2026. “Yesterday we celebrated with all HIF employees and our partners, this historic moment”said Barbara Frenkel, a member of the board of directors of Porsche.

As a symbol, it is indeed a Porsche 911 which has received the first drops of this gasoline which must lead the brand into a more sustainable and carbon-free future. But synthetic gasoline production will not come into customers’ tanks directly. The use of e-fuel is initially planned for the 24 hours of Le Mans 2023, for the Porsche Supercup championship (before each Formula 1 Grand Prix), then should one day end up in the flagship championship of the FIA.

The general public use of the technology is very little addressed by the manufacturer. The Volkswagen group also claims to be outside the project and disinterested in democratization. Asked by lemon squeezer last September, the CEO of Volkswagen Group France, Xavier Chardon, declared: “today it’s Porsche that is ahead of the curve on synthetic fuel. We are on costs that still make development prohibitive. That’s why we concentrate our efforts at Porsche for the 911 and for motorsport. It’s a niche use, but it could certainly be extended to the group. It is possible to imagine its expansion to other luxury brands. As for moving on to democratization, for the moment it is not planned”.

A fuel that captures CO2

Not to mention photosynthesis of course, the synthetic fuel produced by Porsche is based on the double interest of capturing CO2. To be able to replace conventional methanol, e-fuel needs carbon to combine with hydrogen (and become a hydrocarbon). This is captured at the level of polluting industrial areas or biomass, but in the long term, Porsche knows that it will have to develop wider capture technologies, in the ambient air. “So it is still a technology that needs more research and development”said Michael Steiner, another Porsche board member.

With very tough political measures approaching on the issue of the carbon footprint of companies, Porsche is preparing to use its fuel to reduce its impact internally. And for this, e-fuel could be added to the tanks of vehicles in its Porsche Experience Center. All this will have a price: more than 2 dollars per liter, not including taxes and imports to Europe.

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