What is Synthetic Gas?

The HIF synthetic fuel plant near Punta Arenas in Chile.

Good news for the environment: recently a startup company in Chile, Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF), opened its first synthetic gasoline production facility. HIF was organized to run the plant, which is a collaboration among Porsche, Siemens Energy, Exxon Mobil, Enel Green Power, the Chilean state energy company ENAP, and Empresas Gasco. The plant will begin operating with a production rate of about 34,000 gallons (130,000 L) a year, then hopefully increasing to 14.5 million gallons (55 million L) a year by 2024, eventually reaching 145 million gallons (550 million L) a year by 2026.

What is synthetic gasoline? The chemistry is simple enough — the plant will use wind power to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon captured from the air or industrial sources to make methanol, which in turn can then be converted into longer hydrocarbons for fuel. The resulting synthetic e-fuel is a direct substitute for pump gasoline, and initially Porsche will take all the site’s production and use it to run its Porsche Supercup race series. In addition, some production will fuel vehicles at Porsche Experience Centers (to test different models) around the world.

The long-term plan is for HIF to build 12 synthetic fuel plants worldwide, including in the US and Australia, with a goal of each site capturing 2 million metric tons of CO2 per year.

It’s an ambitious plan, and let’s hope it works.

The complete story is “Porsche’s synthetic gasoline factory comes online today in Chile: by Jonathan M. Gitlin at https://arstechnica.com/cars/2022/12/porsches-synthetic-gasoline-factory-comes-online-today-in-chile/?.

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