The pivot to electric cars is well and truly here and, sooner or later, most of us will be driving around in battery-powered vehicles. But while that will go a long way to cut the emissions out of our daily drives, there will still be some people clinging to the cold, dying corpse of the internal combustion engine. And that’s exactly where Porsche’s synthetic fuel plant in Chile comes in.
The site has been in the works for a while between Porsche and Chilean startup HIF Global. The pilot plant was part of Porsche’s initial $22 million investment in the synthetic fuel startup, before it added an extra $75 million to the deal earlier this year. But, what has Porsche bought with all this cash?
Well, first is the pilot plant that has now begun pumping synthetic fuel in Chile. To do this, the site combines carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere with water (H2O) to create synthetic gas (C8H18). The process runs on electricity generated by wind turbines at the facility and its only by-product is oxygen (O2).
The first fuel to drip out of the facility’s taps was used in a “ceremonial fueling” of a Porsche 911 carried out by Porsche executive board members Michael Steiner and Barbara Frenkel.
Steiner, member of the executive board for development and research at Porsche, said: “The potential of eFuels is huge. There are currently more than 1.3 billion vehicles with combustion engines worldwide.
“Many of these will be on the roads for decades to come, and eFuels offer the owners of existing cars a nearly carbon-neutral alternative. As the manufacturer of high-performance, efficient engines, Porsche has a wide range of know-how in the field of fuels.”
Now that it’s online, the Chilean facility will begin producing around 130,000 liters (34,342 gallons) of synthetic fuel each year. While testing continues, this gas will be used by Porsche in its Mobil 1 Supercup racing series and at Porsche Experience Centers.
After the pilot phase, Porsche plans to scale production at the site up to 55 million liters (14.53 million gallons) per year by the middle of the decade. Two years later, the automaker says production capacity is expected to be 550 million liters (145.3 million gallons).