In a concerted effort to combat global warming and tackle the escalating issue of carbon emissions, Porsche, in collaboration with Volkswagen Group Innovation, HIF Global, and MAN Energy Solutions, is venturing into uncharted territory. The automotive giant, Porsche, is setting its sights on Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology, a groundbreaking approach that not only reduces emissions but also capitalizes on carbon dioxide (CO₂) as a raw material.
Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG, underlined the importance of addressing global warming through emission reduction and CO₂ removal. Steiner remarked, “To slow global warming, it is essential to reduce emissions and remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.”
The initiative seeks to make use of CO₂ as a valuable resource within various production processes while simultaneously striving to curtail its harmful environmental impact. The concept revolves around putting industrial DAC procedures into series production.
One of the initial steps in this innovative journey involves exploring the integration of a DAC pilot plant at the eFuels facility in Chile. This plant is a part of Porsche’s established eFuels partner, HIF Global. The aim is to harness renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, to operate the DAC technology efficiently. Heat requirements for the DAC plant could be met through the hydrogen generation process in the eFuels facility, ensuring a sustainable and eco-friendly approach.
Barbara Frenkel, Executive Board Member for Procurement at Porsche, explained the versatility of CO₂ in this context, stating, “Pure CO₂ can be used for industrial processes or permanently stored in the ground. It can also be used to produce eFuels – which we are planning to do as a first step.”
eFuels, or synthetic fuels, hold significant promise in decarbonizing the transport sector, especially for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that will continue to be on the roads worldwide for years to come.
Nikolai Ardey, Director of Volkswagen Group Innovation, elaborated on the significance of DAC technology and its viability. Ardey mentioned, “The Volkswagen Group identified extracting CO₂ from the atmosphere as an issue for the future back in 2019.” He added, “Our research has found that scalable and commercially competitive direct-air-capture technology is possible.”
César Norton, President and CEO of HIF Global, expressed enthusiasm for the project and its contribution to climate change mitigation. Norton said, “We are delighted to be working with Porsche to operate this technology – the future of CO₂ recycling – in the future at our plant in Chile and, in this way, make an active and timely contribution to fighting climate change.”
DAC technology involves filtering ambient air through a pebble-like filter material to capture CO₂, which is then extracted and collected in a highly purified form. This extracted CO₂ can be employed in various ways, such as in non-fossil-based plastics production or eFuels manufacturing.
Porsche’s participation in the Haru Oni eFuel pilot plant in Punta Arenas, Chile, is another vital component of this endeavor. The eFuel pilot plant, managed by HIF Global, produces synthetic fuels using wind energy, renewable CO₂, and hydrogen extracted from water. This aligns with Porsche’s commitment to eFuels as a means to achieve nearly carbon-neutral operation for ICE vehicles.
As the project unfolds, Porsche envisions large-scale plants near the pilot facility in Chile to increase eFuels production. The strategic location of Punta Arenas, with ample wind and proximity to the Strait of Magellan, offers ideal conditions for eFuels production and transportation using existing infrastructure.
Porsche’s substantial investment in eFuels underscores its dedication to innovative solutions in the fight against climate change. With a focus on reducing emissions, harnessing CO₂ as a resource, and exploring new technologies like DAC, Porsche is charting a path toward a more sustainable and eco-conscious future.