HCVA confirms support for development of new synthetic fuels

HCVA confirms support for development of new synthetic fuels

The Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA), a not-for-profit organisation created to support the historic vehicle sector, has joined forces with industry specialists involved in the development of synthetic fuels. The HCVA sees synthetic fuel research as essential if the sector is to achieve the UK government’s target of ‘net zero’ by 2050.

Many readers will know Porsche is working hard to develop eFuels to enable the continued development of new combustion engines, but also to keep the existing world fleet on the road. “Climate protection has to be seen holistically,” says Porsche CEO, Oliver Blume. “This is why we need to be open in terms of technology. Electromobility is an important track, but at the same time, we must remember there are more than a billion existing vehicles worldwide. They will be on the roads for decades to come. eFuels are an effective solution in this regard.”

The aim is for existing and new combustion engines to be powered with eFuels in a virtually carbon-neutral manner — your Porsche won’t have to be converted or have extra equipment retro-fitted for this type of fuel to work. “Our cars are driven for a very long time,” emphasises Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board of Porsche Research and Development. “This is why we are committing to the development of sustainable eFuels. This technology is important, not least because the combustion engine will continue to dominate the automotive world for many years into the future. If we want to operate existing cars in a sustainable manner, eFuels are absolutely essential.”

Porsche’s commercial collaborators in the venture are Siemens, ANE, an Italian energy company named Enel and, last but by no means least, ENAP, a petroleum company based in Chile. This location is central to the enterprise — the German government is keen to invest in energy projects outside das land der dichter und denker, providing they result in sustainable and renewable energy which can be can imported to supplement what’s already produced within Germany’s borders. Proving its commitment, the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has already announced Siemens will receive a grant of €8m (circa £6.9m) to help fund the project. Why take up sticks in Chile? The area chosen for the plant is said to have “excellent wind conditions” which can be used to turn Siemens Gamesa turbines. The electricity these generate will then power electrolysers, which split water into its constituent parts of oxygen and hydrogen.

Because this process is achieved using sustainable power, the hydrogen is referred to as ‘green hydrogen’, a highly desirable end result — most hydrogen created today is known as ‘blue hydrogen’, inefficiently extracted from methane in natural gas (instead of water).

The HCVA plans to seek extra funding to help with ongoing research into synthetic fuels. “Using sustainable and synthetic liquid fuels is vital for the future of classic motoring,” says Guy Lachlan, HCVA’s Managing Director. In the longer term, it is not expected Porsche will continue to lead a fuel production facility, but will instead hand the reins to manufacturing partners, having developed the fuel to suit its own needs. “There’s a groundswell of support from legislators, who increasingly understand investment must be deployed in liquid fuels,” Lachlan confirms.

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