Following their world premieres in Los Angeles, California (CA), the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS and its Clubsport variant have caused a stir at the GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria. Beyond the spectacular drives on ice and snow, their fuel also garnered some attention: they were powered by renewable gasoline.
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According to global sportscar maker Germany-headed Porsche AG, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS is an “uncompromising driver’s car designed to impress with its lightweight construction, extremely agile chassis set-up, sophisticated aerodynamics, and unique soundtrack.”
Powered by renewable gasoline
At its first European appearance in Austria’s Zell am See, the flagship of the 718 auto family demonstrated all this in impressive fashion – and with significantly reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The GT4 RS models were powered by synthetic fuels, which Porsche says “can make an important contribution to lowering carbon emissions in the transport sector.”
In this case, the fuel was a renewable gasoline based on an advanced biofuel made of food waste products.
The fuel had previously demonstrated its suitability for use in high-performance Porsche engines in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, where it was used in all the teams’ 911 GT3 Cup cars for every race of the 2021 season.
Lowering carbon emissions in the transport sector
Porsche Board Member for Research and Development (R&D) Michael Steiner explained that 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, Michael Steiner said.
With fuels produced in a virtually CO2-neutral manner, existing vehicles could make their own contribution to rapid CO2 reduction.
We urgently need a solution for the sustainable operation of existing fleets. This goal can be achieved with green fuels, which are a sensible complement to electric vehicles, stressed rally legend Walter Röhrl.
In order to actively drive this development forward, the construction of the first power-to-liquids )PtL) plant initiated by Porsche for the production of electro-fuels (eFuels) got underway in September 2021.
eFuels are produced using electricity generated by wind power. Water is broken down into its components, hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), via electrolysis.
The hydrogen is then processed with CO2 extracted from the air using direct air capture (DAC) to produce e-methanol.
In the next step, known as methanol-to-gasoline synthesis, it is turned into synthetic raw gasoline, which in turn is processed into a standard-compliant gasoline fuel that can be used in all gasoline engines.
Powering the Porsche fleet
Involving Porsche, Siemens Energy, and various other international partners, the Haru Oni joint project is the world’s first integrated, large-scale commercial plant to manufacture these synthetic, almost carbon-neutral fuels.
Located in the Magallanes Province of southern Chile, the plant takes advantage of the region’s ideal conditions for generating wind energy, which will be used as a sustainable source of electricity to produce synthetic petrol.
The pilot plant is expected to begin production in 2022, and on an annual basis is expected to produce some 130 000 litres of eFuels.
Porsche will purchase this volume in full – and will initially use this renewable synthetic fuel primarily in its motorsport activities.
In the future, Porsche will use the eFuels in its own models with combustion engines – including classic cars.
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, ended Walter Röhrl.