Porsche's Synthetic Fuel Is All The Pleasure With None Of The Guilt

Technology / 12 Comments

A pair of Cayman GT4 RS models strutted their stuff while running on eFuel.

Porsche is no stranger to electric vehicles. Its Taycan is an incredible feat of engineering, providing an emissions-free alternative that's just as characterful and engaging to drive as its gas-powered models. But that hasn't stopped the brand from exploring alternative avenues.

The development of synthetic fuel has the potential to prolong the life of internal combustion-engined vehicles, keeping beloved classics on the road, but also opens up new possibilities in the realm of motorsport. To that end, Porsche's synthetic fuel has since demonstrated its suitability for use in high-performance engines in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. In every race of the 2021 season, all 911 GT3 Cup cars ran on the innovative fuel.

But now the Stuttgart-based company has trialed the synthetic alternative in road cars; a pair of 718 Cayman GT4 RS models showing off their dynamic capabilities in the Austrian town of Zell am See.

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The GT4 RS models ran on a renewable fuel based on an advanced biofuel, says Porsche, which was made from food waste products. Produced using electricity generated by wind power, eFuels are impressively sustainable. Through electrolysis, water is broken down into its components (hydrogen and oxygen). The hydrogen is then processed with CO2 (extracted from the air) in order to produce e-methanol.

In the final step, referred to as the methanol-to-gasoline synthesis, it is turned into synthetic raw gasoline. This is then processed into a standard-compliant fuel that can be used in all gasoline engines.

From 2022, the plant (located in southern Chile) is expected to produce 34,000 gallons of synthetic fuel per year. Initially, the automaker will purchase this in full, using the eFuel in its motorsport activities. In the future, however, the brand will use synthetic fuel in its own combustion-engined models which, thankfully, includes classic cars.

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Legendary rally driver Walter Rohrl remarked, "It's a great hope of mine that in the future I will be able to drive old cars without a bad conscience because I am running them on eFuels. Fuelling a 50-year-old car with eFuels - that's pure sustainability." While electric cars continue to grow in popularity, the majority of vehicles on the road are gas-powered. The introduction of synthetic fuel will drastically reduce CO2 emissions and allow enthusiasts to continue driving their classic cars, without resorting to a full electric conversion.

Michael Steiner, Porsche Board Member for R&D noted, "The huge number of vehicles on the world's roads - some 1.3 billion according to the latest figures - means that the transition to electric mobility is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. In addition, different regions of the world are adopting electric mobility at varying speeds, meaning vehicles with combustion engines will remain on the road for decades to come."

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