Automakers of long-lasting, collectable enthusiast cars like Porsche, Audi and Koenigsegg are desperate to keep their heritage on the road in the face of a cataclysmically warming world. Porsche is putting its money where its mouth is, investing $US75 ($104) million into a synthetic fuel startup company.
Porsche already put up $US22 ($31) million into the Chilean startup HIF Global. The Haru Oni is in the testing phase and is already producing a small amount of efuel in Chile. The process of making the fuel is fascinating — wind-produced electricity is used to make green hydrogen through electrolysis. HIF Global then synthesizes the hydrogen with captured CO2. After further refining, the fuel can be used in your average combustion engine from the lowliest Geo Metro to the slickest Boeing 747. Sure, it belches CO2 back out, but it’s not really adding all that much either.
Porsche worked with several large energy companies in investing in the startup, according to Ars Technica:
In September last year, the Haru Oni pilot plant, built for that purpose, broke ground in Punta Arenas in Chile. That plant was funded in part by Porsche as well as Siemens Energy and ExxonMobil but is being built and will be operated by a Chilean startup called HIF Global. On Wednesday Porsche announced that it was investing $US75 ($104) million to buy a 12.5 per cent stake in the startup.
The efuel-making process at Haru Oni starts by capturing CO2 from the air and using wind power to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. The carbon and hydrogen are used to synthesise methanol, and the methanol is then turned into longer hydrocarbons using ExxonMobil’s methanol-to-gasoline process.
Haru Oni is supposed to produce 128,704 l of efuel by the end of this year, with the aim to produce 14.5 million gallons in 2024. The big dream is 145 million gallons in 2026. Even if they hit that ambitious target, the U.S alone consumes 369 million gallons of motor gasoline per day. That’s not counting diesel, aircraft or shipping fuels. Our addiction to hydrocarbons is truly mind boggling. And with an expected cost of $US7.60 ($11) for a gallon, regular gas prices would need to be apocalyptic for people to choose efuel over gas.
eFuel is a fun idea, one that has been around for a decade now, but it’s certainly not the answer to our immediate climate problems.