Porsche Starts Up eFuel Production Line

Automologist MAC thinks this is a great idea, mainly because he gets to keep his old car. 

South American wind may soon be powering your local Porsche supercar thanks to the new bio-fuel plant switched on by Porsche this week. The German-based carmaker flicked the switch on its pilot plant way down south in Punta Arenas, Chile, and successfully produced its first litre of eFuel, the brand name for the company’s particular blend of synthetic fuel. Made from water and carbon dioxide, and processed using wind and sun renewable energy, this may well be what the world needs to ween itself from hydrocarbons.

Porsche is not new to the world of renewable liquid fuels and has been working on various projects for years now. Like many manufacturers that are being forced into the electric vehicle rat race by government legislation, the VW Group (the owner of the likes of Porsche and Audi and Lamborghini and Skoda and SEAT and…) are well aware that EVs are intrinsically limited by range and battery component availability, and thus are firmly pursuing what they call the double-e path, which encompasses both e-mobility and now eFuel. VW defines an eFuel as a practical alternative that allows an internal combustion engine to operate in a virtually CO2-neutral manner.

The new plant is based in Chile due to the availability and reliability of both the sun and wind in the area. Designed to produce a mere 34,000 gallons annually, the facility is much more a proof of concept than a real attempt at commercial viability, with the production being slotted for what the VW Group calls their lighthouse projects, such as the Porsche Mobil-1 Super Cup. Some of the fuel will also find its way to Porsche Experience Centres around the world, giving us all a chance to put some in our own cars as we go out on track days.

There are already plans to scale up production at Punta Arenas, with production projected to reach some 14.5 million gallons each year before 2025, and thereafter 145 million gallons before the end of the decade. This is not a new idea though and it has taken Porsche and their partners, Exxon Mobile, five years to bring the plant on stream.

The new fuel can be manufactured anywhere there is a surfeit of renewable energy, especially wind and solar, and is designed to work in any engine that burns gasoline. This means the need for massive investment in EV infrastructure will now be greatly reduced, although the need to invest in manufacturing plants will remain. Call me old fashioned, but to me, the main benefit of the new fuel is that this means that my old 911 will be able to cruise the streets for many more years to come. Hallelujah!

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