The Haru Oni hydrogen and e-fuel production facility, jointly developed by Porsche and Siemens Energy, has broken ground in Chilean Patagonia, just north of Punta Arenas, Chile. The pilot plant is expected to produce the future of nearly-carbon-neutral gasoline, called e-fuel, in the near future. The facility is expected to produce 34,000 gallons of e-fuel in 2022, ramping up to around 14 million gallons in 2024, and an impressive 145 million gallons in 2026. At that scale the companies believe production costs will place the e-fuels at around $7.60 per gallon. If we want to keep driving our old internal combustion Porsches for decades to come, this seems like the best way for us to do that while leaving crude oil in the ground. We may not have a choice.
How does this all work? Well it starts by producing electricity in a green eco-friendly manner, including wind and solar energy. That electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is expelled back into the atmosphere, while the so-called green hydrogen is captured for the next step of the process. Carbon dioxide is filtered out of the air around the plant, and mixed with the hydrogen to create pure methanol, which can then be distilled into petroleum gasoline.
Our tests with renewable fuels are going very successfully. eFuels will make it possible to reduce fossil CO₂-emissions in combustion engines by up to 90 percent. Among other things, we’ll be using the first fuel from Chile in our Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race cars from 2022.
I’m talking about naturally aspirated, really high-revving engines like the GT3 or GT3 RS, or the 911 Turbo, and the fuel has also be feasible for our historic cars, and we are really sure that this could be the case — our tests are really promising. We are in the middle of testing with current modern engines as well as with historic engines.—Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG
I’m pleased that we’re making progress on this international lighthouse project for the hydrogen economy together with strong international partners from business and politics. With Haru Oni, we’re bringing our power-to-X technologies to the global market. We’re jointly developing and realizing the world’s first integrated and commercial large-scale plant for producing synthetic, climate-neutral fuels. In southern Chile, we’re implementing one of the energy industry’s most exciting projects for the future and driving forward the decarbonization of the mobility sector. It means we’re making an important and rapidly effective contribution to reducing CO₂-emissions in the traffic and transport sector.
—Armin Schnettler, EVP for New Energy Business at Siemens Energy
As mentioned in a recent Ars Technica report, Formula One has announced a plan to make its series carbon-neutral by the year 2030. Part of that plan includes the ability of the series to switch to an e-fuel like this to power its grid. Steiner confirmed that Porsche had been in discussion with F1, and may soon be a fuels supplier to the series once production ramps up enough to facilitate such a thing happening. Not only could a high-profile client like F1 really speed along the ramp up process, but it could also give Porsche an incentive to join the grid in the near future as well. Hmmmmmm. Interesting.