13th July 2024

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Will they or gained’t they? Rumors of a Porsche hydrogen gasoline cell automotive have begun swirling across the automotive press, following a brand new scoop from Automobile Buzz. If it does pan out, Porsche’s new hydrogen gasoline cell automotive will almost certainly be unaffordable to all however the privileged few, however that’s okay. In spite of everything, the Tesla Motor Firm began life because the area of interest producer of sporty battery-powered electrical automobiles with a $200,000 worth level, proper?

Porsche Is Hydrogen-Curious

CleanTechnica caught a whiff of Porsche’s curiosity in hydrogen-powered mobility again in Could of 2022, after we seen that the corporate was already dipping a toe within the electrofuels area.

The e-fuels group consists of inexperienced hydrogen gasoline produced from water, with renewable vitality offering the electrical energy to run the method. It additionally consists of artificial hydrocarbon fuels, which might be made with captured carbon in addition to inexperienced hydrogen to finish the sustainability loop.

Fueling an inside combustion engine with hydrogen is just not the identical as utilizing hydrogen in a gasoline cell, however it’s getting a bit nearer.

From Hydrogen ICE’s to Gas Cells

Certain sufficient, in August of 2022 Porsche introduced the outcomes of a research indicating the feasibility of deploying hydrogen in a combustion engine.

The research, performed by the corporate’s Porsche Engineering Group, was aimed toward growing a hydrogen combustion engine that “goals to match the facility and torque of present high-performance gasoline engines,” whereas additionally conserving gasoline and reducing emissions all the way down to the extent of ambient air.

That’s a bit extra sophisticated than it might appear. Hydrogen doesn’t produce greenhouse fuel emissions when burned at excessive warmth, however it will probably produce nitrogen oxides.

“When it comes to optimising emissions by the hydrogen engine, the consultants at Porsche Engineering due to this fact focused on nitrogen oxides,” Porsche explains. The answer was to  develop an “extraordinarily lean” colder combustion system.

On the time, Porsche additionally upped its curiosity in producing artificial hydrocarbon e-fuels with renewable vitality.  In December of 2022 the corporate introduced the launch of a brand new wind-powered e-fuel pilot plant in Chile, aimed toward producing a drop-in alternative for gasoline (see tons extra of CleanTechnica’s Porsche protection right here).

In January of 2023 the plot thickened, when Wards Auto took word of the corporate’s continued curiosity in hydrogen gasoline underneath the subheading, “Porsche has developed a hydrogen-powered internal-combustion engine to switch its gasoline-powered V-Eight and an artificial gasoline inventory that replaces gasoline.”

All collectively this will appear a bit complicated, however Ward’s reporting means that Porsche might do each. In spite of everything, even when the corporate had been to pivot its factories totally into hydrogen engines in a single day, its current ICE prospects would nonetheless want gasoline for his or her gasmobiles. On the green-o-meter, artificial gasoline from inexperienced hydrogen and captured carbon beats extracting extra oil from the bottom.

Porsche can also be eyeing the potential for producing e-gasoline for the final market as properly, which might rely on whether or not or not common outdated gasoline is finally banished in favor of extra sustainable variations.

What About That Hydrogen Gas Cell Automobile?

As for the hydrogen gasoline cell rumor, that’s a complete ‘nother kettle of fish. Hydrogen gasoline cell automobiles are electrical automobiles, similar to their battery-powered cousins. The distinction is that gasoline cells generate electrical energy on-the-go by way of a response between hydrogen and ambient air within the presence of a catalyst, whereas batteries obtain their cost from a stationary supply.

Again in April of 2020, Porsche’s head of analysis and growth, Michael Steiner, threw chilly water on the gasoline cell thought in an interview with reporter Christiaan Hetzner of Automotive Information Europe.

“How enticing are gasoline cell fashions to Porsche, contemplating that the stacks are lighter than batteries?” Hetzner requested.

“We proceed to look at it, however in the mean time this expertise is just not suited to Porsche,” Steiner answered. “For one the standard output of a stack is about 100 kilowatts, so in order for you extra energy you continue to want to incorporate a big battery to offer peak output. Which means you want much more room for his or her set up.”

“Secondly, the system’s total vitality effectivity may be very poor as a result of it takes lots of electrical energy to separate water into hydrogen, distribute it to gasoline stations and convert it again to electrical energy,” Steiner added, referring to electrolysis techniques.

Steiner’s issues had been legitimate on the time, however the price of electrolyzers has come down significantly in simply the previous few years since that interview, and so has the price of renewable vitality to offer the electrical energy.

Sure, What About That Hydrogen Gas Cell Automobile?

Porsche’s more moderen e-fuels enterprise solutions the issues about electrolysis, and on January 11 of 2024 — that’s in the present day or yesterday, relying on while you learn this — Sebastian Cenizo of Automobile Buzz received the news on an answer for the issue of needing extra room.

“If a brand new submitting found by CarBuzz on the German Patent and Commerce Mark Workplace is something to go by, Porsche is contemplating producing hydrogen gasoline cell automobiles, ” Cenizo reported.

Gas cells are a mature expertise, however making use of them to a automobile entails overcoming some engineering challenges, similar to making room for the hydrogen gasoline tanks and decreasing the price of uncooked supplies. These, Cenizo noticed, had been the dual focus of the patent submitting.

If you’re shocked by the information, be a part of the membership. Cenizo additionally famous that proof of Porsche’s curiosity in a hydrogen gasoline cell automotive has by no means surfaced on the Automobile Buzz radar earlier than, aside from a single unsubstantiated report again in 2015.

“Principally, whether or not we’re speaking hydrogen combustion or gasoline cells, Porsche is open to something however is way from committing. It’s way more fascinated by hybridization and/or artificial fuels,” Cenzio concluded.

Subsequent Steps For Porsche

If gasoline cells should not the highway to Porsche’s electrification desires, it should at all times have batteries.

On November 11, Porsche took word of its progress on growing a battery-powered model of its Macan SUV, which launched 10 years in the past.

“As the primary Porsche mannequin constructed on the brand new Premium Platform Electrical (PPE), the SUV is a totally new growth,” Porsche enthused. “The take a look at course of to make sure the proper coordination of all parts and techniques is accordingly meticulous.”

“Porsche locations nice significance on real-world testing with camouflaged prototypes. On the similar time, simulations in each the digital world and wind tunnel are more and more exact and play an ever-greater position. That is notably true in relation to making a brand new Porsche not solely sportier, but in addition extra environment friendly,” they added.

If a Porsche gasoline cell automotive ever hits the highway, anticipate an identical consideration to element. Gas cell automobiles have struggled to extend their footprint within the zero emission automobile market, however indicators of exercise are stirring within the SUV space with BMW and Honda amongst these within the working.

It’s additionally value noting that Toyota has additionally been noodling round within the hydrogen combustion engine space for prime efficiency racing automobiles, along with holding the torch for street-legal hydrogen gasoline cell automobiles.

Simply saying…

Comply with me @tinamcasey on Bluesky, Threads, Submit, and LinkedIn.

Photograph (cropped): Porsche 911 GT3 sports activities automotive courtesy of Porsche.

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