It’s no secret that with automotive electrification being pushed exceptionally hard, fans of the internal combustion engine are scrambling to try and preserve their powerplant of choice. Amid growing pressures to produce near-zero emissions, there are a number of companies who are exploring alternative fuels for internal combustion as a way to not only meet emissions goals, but also keep the internal combustion engine alive.
Porsche, in partnership with Siemens Energy, Highly Innovative Fuels, Enel, ExxonMobil, Gasco, and ENAP, recently broke ground on a new eFuel plant in Chile with the goal of not only producing a near-zero emission fuel, but having the production process itself be a near-zero emission endeavor as well. The eFuel described is a synthetic methanol-based fuel that will require only minor alterations to existing internal combustion engines.
Traditionally, methanol is produced using fossil fuels, but the new eFuel will be created using hydrogen and CO2, with the electricity coming from wind and solar sources on-site. This will, in theory drastically reduce the amount of pollution created in both the production and use of the fuel. The plant is expected to be operational by 2022, with its first year’s production estimate of 130,000 liters of fuel planned to power Porsche’s Mobil 1 Supercup racing effort.
Production is slated to increase exponentially after that, with the plant producing 55 million liters by 2024, and 550 million liters by 2026. While the auto manufacturer isn’t completely eschewing electric vehicles — its goal is to be 50-percent electric by 2025 — Porsche understands the importance of not only keeping the internal combustion engine going forward, but also keeping their existing products on the road.
Thankfully for us (the internal combustion enthusiasts), there are companies who are committing significant resources into making sure that we will have alternative fuels available in the future to keep our piston-pounders running well into the next generation of automotive powerplant technology.