Porsche Has a Solution to Keep Classic Cars on the Road: Synthetic Fuel
Fuel for thought
In the not-so-distant future, internal combustion engines have been totally phased out. Gas stations are now converted to charging stations; the average commute consists of reading an eBook and drinking a cup of morning brew while autopilot computes its way around town; and highways are relatively silent, with only tire noise to indicate the presence of cars.
So what is a classic car enthusiast to do? Convert your old gas guzzler to battery power? Blasphemy!
Fear not fellow gearheads – for Porsche has done what they do best, which is to say, they’ve engineered their way out of this debacle by creating synthetic fuel.
Derived from wind-powered electrolysis, green hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide, which has been filtered from the atmosphere (green CO₂?), to produce methanol. The synthetic methanol is then converted to traditional gasoline: meaning that your classic car can theoretically run on synthetic fuel without modification to the fueling system.
Porsche is developing the complex technology in partnership with Siemens Energy, and have just begun production on their Haro Oni hydrogen plant in southern Chile. Why Chile? At the core of the entire process is to create hydrogen and hydrogen-derivatives using wind power. This particular region in Chile has one of the most continuously unidirectional high-wind speed areas on the planet.
If all goes according to plan, the new Haro Oni plant is set to produce 34,000 gallons of the new synthetic fuel in 2022. Production will then scale up to 14.5 million gallons by 2024 and 145 million gallons by 2026.
The new carbon-neutral fuel won’t be cheap, however. A gallon is set to cost about $7.60 – a significant bump from current gas prices even here in Los Angeles. One must keep in mind that gasoline powered cars in the future will mostly likely be used for leisure and sport. Porsche has a vested interest in keeping their modern and heritage cars running as well, considering 70% of all cars they’ve ever produced are still on the road today.
Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche, said, “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.”
Porsche’s involvement in Formula E, competition with Tesla’s Model S Plaid on the Nürburgring, and their recent reveal of the Mission R Concept electric race car show that they have a clear vision on what the future holds for road cars and motorsports.
As someone who is building a classic Toyota Corolla AE86 project in his backyard (and who absolutely adores air-cooled 911’s), I’m thrilled that a company like Porsche is behind the wheel of ensuring our cars have the fuel they need in the future. The fact that it’s created in an almost entirely carbon-neutral way is just icing on the cake.