Car and oil companies advertise for e-fuels

This chemical plant for the production of e-fuels is already on its way to Chile., © MAN Energy Solutions
Chemical plant for the production of e-fuels is on its way to Chile, © MAN Energy Solutions

Industry fears that so-called e-fuels could be a similar flop to biofuels are high. There are too many parallels. Which is why some players are very unsettled. There are also numerous critics warning against extending the life of internal combustion engines. On the other hand, synthetic fuels offer a great opportunity, especially for the until now market-dominating corporations to maintain their influence. In addition, many billions of euros in revenue beckon. Hence this attempt to shed some light on the e-fuel debate.

Proponents of synthetic liquid fuels, also referred to as power-to-liquid (PtL) or e-fuels, advertise that motorists who have neither a garage nor a carport available to them and must park their car on the street depend on the more suitable non-electrical solutions. Synthetic fuels would allow further operation of vehicles or engines for which there is no electrical alternative, the belief is.

For example, despite its electromobility campaign, Volkswagen is also set on electrically generated synthetic fuels, as the Wolfsburg-based company assumes that the combustion engine will continue to be justified for many years to come. Especially sports car manufacturer Porsche, part of the VW corporation, wants to make the existing fleet cleaner with the help of synthetic fuels, in order to comply with the statutory CO2 limits. Head of development Michael Steiner told the German press agency dpa months ago now, “Electromobility is an absolutely exciting and convincing technology. But on its own, it moves us toward sustainability less quickly than we want to progress. That is why we are also engaged in e-fuels.”

E-fuel from Chile for Porsche
A key aspect of this is that the Zuffenhausen-based company, unlike other manufacturers, do not intend to abandon the combustion engine in the foreseeable future. It is why Porsche is engaged together with Siemens Energy and the Chilean company HIF, with the support of the German ministry of economics, in the e-fuel plant Haru Oni in Chile. Shipment of a methanol synthesis unit from MAN Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, for these pilot plants started at the end of February 2022. With the help of the abundant wind power, green methanol is to be produced there starting this fall. Subsequently, synthetic fuel is to be produced from it, which Porsche wants to use in motor sports as well as for research purposes.

However, in order for the high-performance engines to also tolerate the gasoline of the future, it is essential that Porsche have a say now in the specification of the new synthetic fuel. Steiner also remarked, “When E10 came onto the market, the blend also had disadvantages. This time must be different.”

Therefore, the creation of a suitable gasoline and diesel substitute is a must for Porsche if the firm does not wish to alienate its customers. The sports cars are usually driven for a long time, but if in a few years’ time there are no longer any suitable fuels to use, the high-horsepower cars will have to stay in the garage. Even the many oldtimers. This measure also does not contribute to compliance with the legal CO2 limits, according to Steiner. He said, “For us, it would actually not be creditable for the vehicle fleet here and now.“[…]

… Read this article to the end in the latest H2-International

Author: Sven Geitmann

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