There are many who defend that the electric car cannot be the only solution to travel in the future. Hydrogen is an alternative, but so are synthetic fuels.
A British company already sells carbon -neutral 95 octane synthetic gasoline, but it is so expensive that filling a 50-liter tank with it costs more than 100,000 euros.
Its price will be reduced in the coming years.
We have learned it as if it were a mantra: Europe has set itself the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. At first it seemed like a distant goal, but we have been noticing the consequences of this policy for some time in the form of restrictions on the circulation of combustion cars, rising prices of new cars and more expensive fuels.
On the other hand, in principle, Europe will ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars in 2035, a date much closer than the year 2050. Today, everything indicates that the alternative to this type of car will be electric mobility, but this technology has so many fringes to polish that they do not stop looking for other options.
Hydrogen is one of them, both in fuel cell electric cars and to power hydrogen combustion engines. But it is not the only alternative because synthetic fuels have also been worked on for a long time.
In fact, the idea of using these fuels has been considered for decades, but there has been no need to mass-produce them. However, things have changed and fossil fuels have become the number one enemy of emissions neutrality policies.
Therefore, it is a matter of time before oil is out of the question, at least in certain places on the planet, such as our continent. But this uncertainty surrounding the electric car has caused interest in other alternatives to multiply. That is why hydrogen and synthetic fuels are being talked about more than ever, despite the fact that the future of both is also quite uncertain.
But that doesn’t stop big manufacturers like Porsche from insisting on so-called eFuels. Those from Stuttgart have just inaugurated an experimental synthetic fuel manufacturing plant in Chile and their goal is to produce some 130,000 liters per year in a first pilot phase. By the end of this decade, the idea is to produce 550 million liters per year.
Today, there are still many technical challenges to overcome to standardize the use of synthetic fuels, but it cannot be ruled out as an alternative, especially if a legal framework is created that allows its use in combustion cars beyond 2035 and, Of course, if it gets cheaper.
The problem is that, for the latter to happen, it is necessary to reduce production costs because currently a liter of synthetic fuel is very expensive, to the point that considering its use is absurd.
At the moment, the only carbon-neutral synthetic fuel you can buy is from Zero Petroleum, a company run by Formula 1 engineer Paddy Lowe. According to Zero, this fuel is a direct replacement for gasoline and its production cycle is carried out with renewable energy, so manufacturing it leaves a carbon neutral balance.
The problem is its price: the 20-liter bottle costs 50,000 pounds, the equivalent of the current exchange rate of 56,776 euros, so each liter of this 95-octane synthetic gasoline eFuel costs 2,839 euros.
It’s a scary price, but Zero Petroleum somehow justifies it because it’s a special limited edition of which only eight bottles will be sold, all signed by Paddy Lowe. I mean, something anecdotal. Nor should we forget that it is the first carbon-neutral synthetic fuel to be put on sale.
This company also sells the same fuel through its website, but at a less expensive price, because of course it is still not cheap. This 20-liter bottle of Zero Syn95 costs 1,000 pounds, the equivalent of the current exchange rate of 1,135 euros, so the liter is priced at 56.75 euros.
Customers who buy the latter now will have to wait until 2025 to receive their bottle, while those who pay 56,776 euros for one of the other eight bottles of identical capacity and with the same fuel will have it by the end of this year.
This means that in a period of two years the price will be reduced from 2,839 euros per liter to 56.75 euros. Later, Zero Petroleum will market Zero Syn98, equivalent to 98 octane gasoline, as well as Zero SynDiesel, that is, synthetic diesel. It will also make synthetic jet fuel available for sale.
By the end of this decade, Zero’s goal is for the large-scale production of this fuel to reduce the liter of synthetic fuel to 3 euros. But there are still many years to see those rates and, by then, even fossil fuels may move in those figures.
What is clear is that synthetic fuel has a future because another of the regulations that come from Europe will force in 2035 that at least 20% of the components of aviation fuel, Jet A-1, be of sustainable origin with a minimum of 5% eFuel.
It will be necessary to see if they also have a future in the automotive world, either to feed the combustion engines of new cars or to continue using classic cars with a carbon-neutral fuel that does not require carrying out any type of modification in the mechanics to use it.