Invention of the car

E-fuels instead of e-car

Porsche develops powertrain that Bill Gates says is partially superior to e-mobility

31.01.2022 updated: 07:29

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  • Author Valentin Betz

For Porsche AG, e-motors are not the only solution. The Stuttgart-based carmaker relies on alternative fuels, to which Bill Gates attests certain advantages.

  • Bill Gates speaks out in favor of biofuels and e-fuels in his blog.
  • Synthetic e-fuels are also being researched by Porsche AG as a future fuel.
  • Bill Gates considers electric drives unsuitable for transporting goods because the batteries are too large.

Stuttgart – It is not least the enormous success of e-car manufacturer Tesla that has prompted German vehicle manufacturers to push ahead with electromobility. Baden-Wurttemberg has also recently experienced an e-car boom, with numbers almost tripling. Even the Daimler AG develops in the future with new models those with E-drive first.

But not all experts are fully convinced about electromobility. The production of batteries is still far too harmful to the environment. Whether an electric car is climate-neutral also depends on the power source used to charge the battery.

Editor’s note

This article was originally published on 18.12.2020 published. Since it is still relevant for our readers, we have posted it again on Facebook.

Another problem is the efficiency of the batteries. Currently, the range is manageable, but the longer the distance, the heavier the batteries become – and efficiency suffers as a result. The entrepreneur and billionaire Bill Gates therefore does not consider electromobility to be the panacea, especially not for the worldwide transport of goods by trucks, ships and airplanes. On long distances, Bill Gates advocates a drive system that Porsche AG in Stuttgart is also increasingly researching.

Porsche AG relies on e-fuels instead of e-cars for propulsion – Bill Gates is convinced

Bill Gates does not completely reject electromobility in the process. „Electric carsconvince on the short haul. They’re great for personal transportation, but also for city buses or garbage collection”, writes Bill Gates in his blog. For the global transport of goods with large vehicles such as trucks, ships or airplanes, however, according to Bill Gates, electromobility is reaching limits that technological progress will not overcome. „Even with a major breakthrough in battery technology, e-vehicles will probably never be a practical solution – at least for trucks, cargo ships, and passenger planes,”, according to Bill Gates.

Photomontage: Close-up of a Porsche, next to it a portrait of Bill Gates

Bill Gates therefore calls for further research into alternative fuels in particular. Biofuels made from plants or agricultural waste are particularly promising for the entrepreneur. Bill Gates also mentions e-fuels as another alternative. Porsche AG and its subsidiaries are also involved in the development of this fuel. „If you want to operate the existing fleet sustainably in the long term, e-fuels are a fundamental component, Porsche development chief Michael Steiner said recently.

Porsche AG and Bill Gates are advocates of the new technology around e-fuels

E-fuels are liquid or gas fuels that can be produced artificially. By means of electrolysis, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide. The technology, which Porsche is also researching for its vehicles, has two key advantages: On the one hand, the fuel can be obtained only with the help of electricity.

On the other hand, e-fuels can be used in conventional combustion engines, no new technology is needed. “The carbon dioxide needed for manufacturing comes directly from the atmosphere. So there are no additional emissions when e-fuels are burned,” Bill Gates explains on his blog.

However, the technology on which Porsche AG is now focusing also has weaknesses: That’s because, as with electromobility, in order to be carbon-neutral, the electricity must come from renewable energy sources. In addition, the technology is somewhat cumbersome: Instead of powering the vehicle directly with electricity, as is the case with electromobility, e-fuels consume electricity to produce a fuel. “E-fuels can be three to seven times more expensive than fossil fuels,” says Bill Gates. Accordingly, development here must make significant progress to make the fuel profitable.

For Porsche AG, e-fuels are the fuel of the future despite their weaknesses. “If we succeed as a human race in using the surplus regenerative energy available worldwide, we can prioritize sustainability over efficiency,” says Porsche’s head of development Michael Steiner.

Column list image:© Unsplash/picture alliance/Gian Ehrenzeller/KEYSTONE/dpa/photo montage

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