German corporations Porsche and Siemens are collaborating to construct a facility in Chile which will produce a new synthetic fuel. The low-carbon fuel is designed to drastically lower the carbon footprint of Porsche and is said to be so clean that cars which use it will have lower carbon footprints than current electric cars. The initial facility is intended to be the first step in establishing what Siemens and Porsche hope will become an economically viable fossil fuel alternative.
Porsche to produce new synthetic fuel
Despite optimistic plans from the White House, carbon-free energy is far from being ready to replace fossil fuels on a large scale.
The contribution being developed by Porsche and Siemens may at least be the next best thing if solar and wind power are not ready to provide a much larger share of energy in the near future.
The plant in Chile, planned to derive most of its electricity from wind power, will combine hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce a synthetic menthol which can be turned into usable fuel.
The goal will be to produce 34,000 gallons of the synthetic fuel in 2022, when the plant is to begin operations, and then rapidly scale up production to an annual 145 million gallons by 2026.
At more than $7 per gallon the fuel will not be a particularly economical choice for consumers in the immediate future, though that may change as production increases.
Porsche plans to initially use the synthetic fuel in its Mobil 1 Supercup racing cars, starting in 2022 when production at the Chile plant begins on a limited scale.
Substantially lower carbon emissions planned
With many European governments actively making plans for a future in which cars with internal combustion engines can be gradually phased out in favor of cleaner alternatives, there is both an economic and environmental incentive for synthetic fuel production.
For Porsche, much of the interest comes from the fact that a majority of the cars it has produced are still on the road and contain internal combustion engines.
The synthetic fuel which is to be produced at the plant in Chile was designed specifically to address this concern in preparation for a carbon-free horizon.
The fuel was created to be compatible with both the traditional engines used by Porsche as well as the new designs being constructed.
Porsche, which has not been enthusiastic about electrifying its 911, believes that synthetic fuel will be a sustainable alternative which will ensure that classic cars can continue to be operated as normal in a future with less access to fossil fuels.
The project will likely encounter some difficulties on its path to becoming an economically viable source of fuel but it is far closer to being ready for widespread use than most carbon-free alternatives.