Electric short circuit? This is how the petrol engine can be saved
Wednesday 10th March, 2021 - 9:58am
At the same time Porsche has unleashed its all-electric Taycan, the German brand has revealed it could save the internal combustion engine as we know it.
While more and more car makers look set to abandon fossil fuels for electric motors, Porsche is working on synthetic fuel that it claims will work in an existing petrol-powered engine. That means, not only can Porsche keep building the 911 with its iconic flat-six petrol engine, it also means you will still be able to drive your classic V8 or turbocharged model with synthetic fuel.
Speaking to Torquecafe.com, Porsche’s head of GT car development, Andreas Preuninger, said initial testing had demonstrated synthetic fuels (or eFuels as they are also known) require no mechanical changes to work with existing or older engines.
“We’re really eager to get these synthetic fuels, there’s no problem using them in today’s engines,” Preuninger revealed. “There’s no problem using them in engines from 30 years ago. It’s just a cleaner, better fuel. There’s no unwanted byproducts in the fuel like non-synthetic fuel. From our [point-of-view], they only have advantages so we have to keep pushing it forward.”
Porsche is so serious about eFuels it’s investing in the creation not only of the technology, but also the factory required to produce it. The German giant has invested €20 million (approximately $30 million) into an eFuels factory in Chile in partnership with technology company Siemens and energy provider ExxonMobil; which will be able to distribute the fuel through its existing network.
The factory would be able to produce 130,000-litres of eFuel by next year before ramping up production to 55-million-litres by 2024 and 550-million-litres by 2026. That final date is important, potentially, because Porsche is believed to be lobbying for Formula 1’s 2026 engine regulations to adopt synthetic fuel.
But while all petrol-powered cars will benefit from the development of eFuels, Porsche is very clear in its motivation – saving the 911 from having to go electric.
“That’s why we do it,” Preuninger admitted. “We are a strong believer in synthetic fuels, I mean you can even make more power with those and it’s cleaner.”
However, that’s not to say Porsche is acting purely in its own self-interest, with the wider benefits of eFuels obvious to Preuninger and his colleagues. It will help the world shift towards a carbon neutral future without all cars having to make the expensive switch to electric powertrains.
“Right now it’s a little bit, or a lot more expensive, but the more you spend money developing the process the better and lower the costs will be at the end,” he explained.
“We have to concentrate on doing something like this, because look at all the cars with a combustion engine out there, you can’t switch them off one day to another and all go electric.
“We have to do both… The cars you buy now should run in 20 years so there should be a way you can operate these cars with a lot less emissions. This would help us a lot to keep combustion engines alive, especially for a 911 and specialty cars like GT cars.”