Porsche testing synthetic fuel in race conditions

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Porsche will continue its synthetic-fuel development program with tests in race conditions, the automaker announced Thursday via press release.

Synthetic fuel, which Porsche believes will produce lower levels of carbon emissions than conventional gasoline, will be tested in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race series during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, in partnership with series sponsor ExxonMobil.

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is a one-make race series using a specially prepared version of the 911 GT3. Supercup is international, but Porsche also runs regional Carrera Cup series in Europe, Asia, and North America using the same specification of car.

The first on-track testing testing of the fuel—dubbed Esso Renewable Racing Fuel, using one of ExxonMobil’s other brands—took place March 30 at the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands, Porsche said.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

The fuel is sourced from the Haru One pilot plant in Chile that Porsche announced late last year. The plant uses wind-generated electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce methanol, which in turn forms the basis for synthetic fuel.

Porsche expects the plant to produce 130,000 liters (34,340 gallons) of fuel in 2022. Most of the fuel will go to Porsche, which plans to use it in the Supercup race series throughout 2022. At that point, Porsche plans to begin testing a second iteration of the Esso Renewable Racing Fuel, which the automaker claims will achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to current fuels.

While it continues to push ahead with electric cars, Porsche has become quite bullish on synthetic fuels. Dr. Frank Walliser, Porsche vice president of GT cars and motorsport, said in February that synthetic-fueled cars could have lower overall emissions than EVs (once emissions from manufacturing are factored in), and said all of Porsche’s current internal-combustion engines could use synthetic fuel without modifications. The automaker has also floated synthetic fuels as a way to keep classic cars on the road in the face of tougher emissions standards.

“The electrification of vehicles is the highest priority for us,” Michael Steiner, Porsche board member for research and development, said in a statement. “(Synthetic fuels) are a good complement to our powertrain strategy.”



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