As gasoline prices continue to rise and crushing drivers wallets, is there a solution that will allow all vehicles to run on fuel at a reasonable price. There is a viable option, and it is coming soon. Synthetic fuel, like synthetic engine oil, is a replacement for fuels that can be used in place of gas.
If produced on an industrial scale, prices of synthetic e-fuel, made from water and carbon dioxide, of less than $2 per gallon could be possible.
Synthetic gas or e-fuel works the same as gasoline and will allow all cars on the road to function as usual. Most importantly, can they really save internal combustion engines and still allow most of us to keep the vehicles we have with no expensive modifications. Yes, this is a solid option that will work and be good for the environment as well as your pocketbook. We can thank the engineers from Porsche and VW Group for working diligently on this new fuel. This will benefit most vehicles not just their sports cars.
Scientifically speaking, synthetic fuels are artificially produced alternatives to conventional gasoline or diesel. In its simplest form, a synthetic fuel is made by combining hydrogen and carbon atoms to create a compound called an alkene — usually ethene, which contains two carbon atoms and four hydrogen atoms. Ok, that is deep, what does this mean to you.
Porsche has invested millions of dollars in the production of e-fuels. Formula 1 and its sponsor, Saudi oil giant Aramco, are working together to create zero-emission fuels low carbon fuels to be used by Formula One race cars in the next few years. Aramco and Spanish energy firm Repsol are constructing an enormous synthetic fuel factory in Spain to create carbon-neutral gasoline alternatives. Shell, the Dutch fuel giant, has been working on synthetic alternatives to today’s jet fuel.
This is more proof that this synthetic fuel can be used in high revving cars. Even Amazon just signed a deal with a company called Infinium to supply low carbon fuel for its delivery trucks starting next year. They call them e-fuels or electrofuels. Amazon says it will replace diesel fuel and will start using it in southern California where its fleet of trucks rack up 5 million miles of driving a year. This is proof of concept. There is much more on this subject
The ultra-low carbon fuels can easily be used to power cargo trucks, airplanes, and marine freight without engine modifications. The production of electrofuels will be in Texas. The Texas location will use renewable-power-generated green hydrogen and approximately 18,000 tons of recycled carbon waste per year to create the electrofuels. They have been developing this technology for the better part of a decade, and we expect electrofuels to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 95 percent over traditional fossil fuels. This is a smart solution and a better option for most drivers.
In addition, Porsche is investing in the development of industrial e-fuel production facilities in Chile, USA and Australia. The production is with partners including Siemens Energy and ExxonMobil, to produce eFuels from hydrogen and CO2 using wind energy. These electricity-based synthetic fuels will enable nearly-CO2-neutral operation of combustion engines.
Porsche has been the pioneer and researching the use of renewable fuels for some time. Tests in the laboratory and on the race track have been successful. The sports car manufacturer plans to use the eFuels in motorsports. In the future, it is also plans to fuel combustion engines.
There are more than 1 billion existing vehicles worldwide that will be on the roads for decades to come. E-fuels are an effective solution to using less fossil fuels. They can enable all vehicles to play a role in reducing CO₂ – regardless of the powertrain type. Combustion engines can be powered with e-fuels in a virtually carbon-neutral manner. They don’t have to be converted or retrofitted for it. E-fuels can be offered as a mixture or alone at all filling stations. This offers an option to the owners of existing vehicles and efuel is cleaner for combustion engines.
Now the big question, what will e-fuel will cost? If produced on an industrial scale, prices of less than $2 per gallon could be possible. The important thing is that synthetic fuels are produced sustainably and in places in the world where renewable energy is abundant. E-fuels produced from water and the carbon dioxide extracted from the air for automobiles, planes and ships have the advantage over pure hydrogen that they can be transported more easily. Production will start in 2022 and ramp up from there.
Other companies are working on alternatives so we can keep our vehicles. In Scandinavia, a company called Quantafuel has been pioneering a process that turns plastic waste into brand new products including synthetic fuel.
The Norwegian company hopes to transform 19,000 metric tons of waste plastic into 15 million liters of low-carbon diesel and other synthetic oil products each year. What’s more, the process of turning waste plastic into fuel emits 90 percent less CO2 compared to traditional fuel production.
More exciting news is coming soon on hydrogen that will fuel combustion engines from brands like Toyota, Hyundai, BMW and others. I will report on that in the near future.
There is so much more to discuss on this, put your comments below and let’s start the conversation.
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Lauren Fix, The Car Coach is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.
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