Synthetic fuels: Porsche 911 to run on e-fuels in 2024

Synthetic fuels as a supplement to electromobility: Porsche wants to set up a pilot plant for e-fuels in Chile and prepare the 911 for the new fuel.

You can’t stand on one leg, as the saying goes. This is also Porsche’s view with regard to electromobility: “We continue to believe in the triad of classic combustion engines, plug-in hybrids, and pure electric cars like the Taycan,” says Michael Steiner. The Chief Development Officer has his sights set on the first two when it comes to e-fuels, an area in which the manufacturer now wants to make greater inroads.

E-fuels as a perspective for combustion engines and PHEVs

The technology is particularly important because the combustion engine will continue to dominate the automotive world for many years to come, says Steiner. Simply because the existing fleet contains almost exclusively cars with combustion engines. “From our point of view, e-fuels have to work with existing engines because our vehicles are driven for a very long time,” says the Porsche manager. The company does not want to develop its own engines for the synthetic fuels, he added. Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, could use e-fuels to reduce CO2 emissions not only during electric operation in the city, but also over long distances.

Porsche’s Chief Development Officer Michael Steiner is convinced of the benefits of e-fuels.

For the production of e-fuels, which can be synthetic diesel as well as gasoline or gas, renewable electricity is the basic prerequisite. Ideally, this is surplus wind or solar power that the grid cannot absorb. This electricity is used to split water into its components oxygen (O₂) and hydrogen (H₂). The latter is combined with carbon dioxide (CO₂), which is a waste product from other industrial processes, for example, and can also be extracted from the ambient air. At the end of the chain are fuels for internal combustion engines that do not differ in their basic properties from petroleum-based gasoline but are produced in a CO₂-neutral way.

There must be no disadvantages like with E10

Porsche wants to get involved primarily from a technical point of view. “We want to blend the e-fuels with conventional fuels in the first step,” says Michael Steiner. Later, however, Porsche also wants to design the fuels itself so that they can be used as the only fuel. One thing is clear: the e-fuels must also work with Porsche’s high-performance engines and the engines in classic cars. There must be no disadvantages compared to conventional fuels; Steiner cites the introduction of E10 as a warning example.


09/2020, Porsche 356, Ur-911 und 992


Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG
Vom alten 356er bis zum neuen 911: Jedes dieser Porsche-Modelle soll perspektivisch mit E-Fuels betrieben werden können.

Wie die Produktion der Kraftstoffe funktionieren könnte, will Porsche im Süden Chiles testen. Laut “Automobilwoche” baut der ortsansässige Energiekonzern Andes Mining & Energy (AME) dort zusammen mit dem Autohersteller sowie Siemens Energy und dem italienischen Stromversorger Enel eine entsprechende Pilotanlage auf. Die dort erzeugten E-Fuels könnte beispielsweise der Elfer dann bereits als Kraftstoff nutzen: “Wenn wir gut vorankommen, könnten schon ab 2024 alle weltweit neu verkauften 911 Carrera mit 100 Prozent E-Fuels versorgt werden”, sagt Michael Steiner dem Fachblatt zufolge. Und das, ohne den Verbrennungsmotor per Modifikationen an den neuen Kraftstoff anpassen zu müssen. Legt man den 911-Jahresabsatz 2019 zugrunde, müsste der Sprit für 34.800 Autos reichen.


Porsche fordert faire CO₂-Besteuerung

Nachdem die ersten Erfahrungen mit derartigen Pilotanlagen wie in Chile gesammelt wurden, will Porsche helfen, dass die Kraftstoffe irgendwann auf Industrieniveau produziert werden können. Noch sei der CO₂-neutrale Sprit zwar deutlich zu teuer. “Aber wenn man das skaliert, sehen wir schon eine Chance, dass die Kraftstoffe irgendwann preislich wettbewerbsfähig sind”, sagt Steiner. Dazu müssten die unterschiedlichen Kraftstoffarten jedoch eine faire CO₂-Besteuerung erhalten. Im großen Maßstab müsse in dieser Hinsicht politisch und regulatorisch viel passieren.


Tegernsee 911 Targa

The current Porsche 911 is also to be able to run on e-fuels in the future.

But where is there any surplus renewable electricity? Not in Germany, rather. But South America, for example, has surpluses that could be used for e-fuels. In addition, the weather conditions in the Patagonia region, where the Chilean pilot plant is being built, are good: Strong winds from the Antarctic consistently prevail here, which increases the plant’s efficiency.

Prospects for motor sports

This is followed by another advantage of synthetic fuels: The same infrastructure can be used for storage and transport as for fossil fuels. E-fuels in the tanker, rail car or truck used to transport gasoline and diesel today? No problem, says Michael Steiner.

And e-fuels offer another perspective that is very important for a manufacturer like Porsche: use in motor sports. Porsche is already involved in battery-electric Formula E at the factory. But when it comes to e-fuels, there is “no alternative for high-quality and sustainable motorsport” for the Chief Development Officer.

Conclusion

A CO₂-neutral liquid fuel that can be used to power existing engines? That sounds too good to be true. Michael Steiner also admits that we are at the very beginning of development: “We believe that e-fuels will be available at the filling station in ten years. But until then, they will not replace fossil fuels.”

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