What is E-Fuel and Can it Save the Internal Combustion Engine?

Porsche is building a pilot green E-Fuel plant in Punta Arenas Chile, a region known for its strong and reliable winds.  The electricity needed is going to come from a huge wind turbine.  The plans are to make 145.3 million gallons of E-Fuel a year by 2026.  This fuel is going to be the factory fill fuel for all Porsches and fuel their facilities.  The disadvantage to this is it is completely regionally dependent on reliable wind power.

Personally, I think it’s going to be very difficult to make enough carbon neutral electric power without affecting our lifestyle or economy with just solar, wind, and hydroelectric, in my opinion, these methods are too low yield to supply the rapidly increasing power demand that carbon neutral fuels and electric cars need.  Burning hydrocarbons like coal and natural gas to create electricity will just make the CO2 problem worse, that’s something that politicians don’t understand.  In my opinion, the only way we can greenly make power in the short term is to use nuclear power.

Now nuclear power has most of us scared.  It creates deadly waste that is dangerous for millenniums and they are complicated machines that if anything goes wrong, very bad things happen that can contaminate large areas for generations with extremely toxic stuff. Even though modern nuclear power plants have a triple redundancy of critical systems, deadly accidents still happen. Look at Chernobyl , Three Mile Island, and Fukushima as examples of why everyone is so frightened.

In my opinion, until we can come up with working fusion reactors which may take a generation to develop, the best way to make acceptably clean and safe nuclear power is through 4th generation nuclear reactors.

4th generation reactors are designed to be passively safe meaning they can be safely shut down and not melt down even if the cooling systems fail. They are also much more efficient with nuclear fuel, reacting way less of it much more completely, and thus creating less and more depleted waste that is dangerous for a hundred years, not a near eternity. Some systems are nearly closed-loop with waste, recycling it again and again until it has very little yield.  Other systems use the heat energy created by waste to generate power.  4th generation reactors are currently being run, a few commercially.  Developing the most promising of these designs to supplement wind and solar should be the way to the salvation of our way of life.

Unfortunately, the politicians and talking heads only make ineffective, costly, and ill-thought-out rules like they do with nearly everything, with no idea on how to technically implement them.  I won’t name any of them or the party here, it’s not hard to figure out, and if it makes you mad, vote accordingly.  Unlike the stupid stuff from our leaders, we have laid out some actual ideas of how we might save our planet and still have our cars!




  1. Obviously commenting on this is going to be a minefield. 😉

    Let’s say, I agree with most of the basic premise of this – well I’ve always been really in favor of nuclear power as bluntly, the FUD over it is absurd. And I’ve long been arguing in favor of transitional energy transport methods. Liquid fuels are really really convenient and so much of the US power grid… well ask Texans for example how well it would handle something like “everyone has an EV”. And I think you and I can both envision ways of massively increasing average fuel efficiency for most people’s car needs.

    I don’t know how we get from here to there though; economics means that, especially with subsidies for petroleum extraction companies, it’s going to stay massively more cost effective to keep pumping crude out of the ground with all the repercussions that entails, and the current state of the PR on all of this is what it is.

  2. I made rough calculations for Germany and came to need of doubling their electric generation to fuel personal mobility. Also cars are mostly charged at night at home, so all this amount need to be generated without sun, or somewhere stored.

    Then we came to the next problem: let’s imagine village with 500 houses and 500 daily driven cars. Every car needs at least 15kw of power, also in winter you need electricity for heating (remember, we are refusing fossil fuels) and also for another consumers. So generally you need to handle the situation when your household peak consumption raises from 4-8kw to somewhere near 40-50kw. So you need to fully rework ALL electricity delivery network.

    Then the third problem with no solution in nearest future: weight of BEV. For consumer cars like Leaf or id3 it’s not a big deal, but weight of fuel is a problem for delivery and absolute catastrophe for aviation and shipping. And also for performance vehicles, but when I look at modern German, let’s name them cars (not elephants), I came to opinion that nobody cares.

    The forth problem is raise of vehicles production and maintaining complexity. You can’t just bore out your battery and install new pistons to fully restore battery condition. You need to recycle used one and get new for enormous amount of money and work. Also instead of carburetors that can be casted in garage you need complex chips and boards. I’am oversimplifying, but I guess you all remember: no replacement for displacement, you either get cheap, reliable and simple big engine or have a lot of problems to solve.

    And now let’s look what Power-to-Liquid fuels gives you: simple engines, simple power storage, simple power transportation, no problems with planes and ships and transportations.

    Nuclear energy is the cleanest way to get electricity. Furthermore it’s the cheapest way to get a large amount of energy and is the most controllable in terms of power regulation – you can generate most of electricity at night or whenever you want with near to zero carbon footprint.

    Also let’s imagine new raise of old good big OHV v8s. Simple reliable construction, rebuildability that will allow you to use your cars for decades and nobody will tell you, that your old delivery-truck is no more eligible to enter city because of emissions.

    Yeah, and of course car enthusiast will be happy)))

    1. I very much agree with Jay Leno talking about self driving cars taking over and our archaic HC burners following the fate of the horse. Used for pleasure now, no longer pulling the plough. Certain times, certain roads, certain people.
      Solid state batteries, while nascent, is the current holy grail. These will allow deep and safe storage of electricity generated when possible to be utilized when needed. Charged during the day, discharged at night topping up a car when needed.
      Nuclear power will remain dirty, no matter how it’s marketed. It can be cleaner, but this is like clean coal or filtered cigarettes. Fusion changes the storyline here, no? Let’s hope this is realized sooner rather than later.
      I’m so excited for this change yet remain fully devoted to all of the wonderfully horrible nuances of the internal combustion engine.

      1. 4th gen nukes are an order of magnitude more efficient, cleaner, and safer than current reactors. If the carbon in the air really is a serious problem, this is about the only way to stop its rise with our current technology.

  3. I enjoyed this. I can no longer drive down a highway in an old RX-7 burning C16. The fuel transition, it’s happening and we’ll find a way to make it commercially viable. The grid derailments are a moot point. Home charging, localized DC grids will resolve much of this. Think freedom gardens in WW2. We have an abundance of free energy here. It’s why our planet is so hot! Converting that into tangible energy will fix nearly all of our problems while hopefully salvaging a lot of the environment that our fun pastime has contributed to changing.

  4. So they’re kicking around the idea of running cars on methane. What comes out of the tailpipe? Because unburned methane is supposedly much worse for the atmosphere short term than CO2.

  5. Since when is CO2 a pollutant? CO is, but CO2 is essential for plants (vegetation) to thrive. Remember photosynthesis in 3rd grade? CO2 + water+ sunlight and all that? BTW, the main products of combustion are CO2 and water (and nitrogen, which is just along for the ride and in the way for the most part)…. literally plant food. I believe our politicians have conveniently taken the problems associated with carbon monoxide (CO, produced in trace amounts in ICE exhaust) and adhered them to carbon dioxide (CO2, a main product in ICE exhaust) in order to inflate doomsday hysteria. Conveniently just lump it all together as “carbon”. Even so, it would be really cool if we came up with a machine that converted CO2 into oxygen… oh, wait… that’s a tree. Vegetation are literally carbon scrubbers. The biggest problem with this is politicians don’t gain hysterical followers or profit from trees.

    1. It doesn’t help that our rainforests are getting cut down quickly. Another solution is to pay tropical 3rd world countries to preserve and restore their rainforests.

    2. Most people don’t realize this and that the earth in whole is much greener now then it has ever been at least that we’ve recorded and can see. Everyone wants to get rid of all cO2 and I’m say why are you trying to literally kill every living thing on earth because without it no plants no animals no humans. The earth has heated and frozen over many times it will happen again we can’t stop Mother Nature those who believe we truly mean that much are greatly mistaken and should go live in tornado alley. We need to figure out how to use ocean natural movement like incoming and outgoing tides to spin turbines like a damn and make hydroelectric power. And of course newest nuclear power plants. But I’m honestly not really worried about climate change but most people are because anyone can follow and few can lead.

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