We are all aware of global warming and the effects that we are having on the world. As a certified petrolhead, I can admit that our gas-powered ways must come to and end, but does that mean we have to stop driving? Definitely not. With options like electric cars, hybrid vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell cars, we can all continue driving along happily until the end of times. But what about our beloved internal combustion engines? Do we just park them in the garage to keep as a show piece? Do we trade them all in for the newest battery powered sensation hitting the market? Porsche says no to all of the above, and that there may be a way, just yet, to still enjoy our noise making machines well into the future. Let’s first start out by talking about some of our other options.
Starting off with the easiest of them all, electric vehicles. Back when electric vehicles first started to make an appearance, it seemed that our only options would be slow and unbearable to look at. Fast forward a couple years and we have vehicles such as the Porsche Taycan, Audi E-Tron GT, and of course, Tesla. Simple enough, EVs are function by plugging into a charging point and taking electricity from the gird. They store the electricity in multiple rechargeable batteries that power the electric motor. Not only are electric vehicles cleaner for the earth, but they also provide much more torque to give you that kick off the line!
Hybrid vehicles get a little trickier in how they work because they have a gas-powered engine as well as an electric motor. Sometimes the electric motor is doing all the work, sometimes the gas motor, but sometimes they work together. Hybrids can come in plug in format, but most systems recapture energy via regenerative braking. With all hybrids, the electric power comes from a battery pack, different than the cars conventional 12-volt battery, that’s replenished by capturing energy from deceleration that’s normally lost to heat generated by brakes. Hybrids also use the gas engine to charge and maintain the battery. Car companies all use different hybrid designs such as parallel, series, and plug-in, but in the end, its always one gas motor, with at least one electric.
Taking a step towards hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is where it gets even more confusing. Fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles, but rather than having to be plugged in, they generate their own power using on-board fuel cell stacks. Similar to hybrids, they contain storage batteries and use regenerative braking to capture kinetic energy and then store it as electricity. Like regular cars, you can fill up your car at select stations that have hydrogen pumps which are essentially compressed hydrogen. When put to work, the hydrogen gets the on-board generator started to power the batteries and mixes with oxygen which causes water to come out the exhaust. Yes, you heard me right, water.
Now after all this you might think that with all these options, gas powered vehicles will surely go to waste. Well Porsche has an answer for that in the form of synthetic fuel. Wind-powered and retrieving carbon dioxide from the air, the much-anticipated Haru Oni plant is just the start of what Porsche sees as “large-scale of production for green fuels for the world. Porsche found that although there is a lot of buzz for electric vehicles, it won’t become the norm overnight, and with 70% of their sports cars sold still in use today, they believe there is plenty of reasons to keep internal combustion engines around. Current regular internal combustion vehicles can use this synthetic fuel without and modifications. No new cars, no added parts, just stop by, fuel up, and be on your way. If everything goes according to plan, the plants first trial in Chile will take place in 2022. If I were you, I wouldn’t sell that beautiful noise machine just yet!
Written September 2021