Sports car manufacturer Porsche and Siemens Energy have joined forces with a number of international companies to build an industrial plant for the production of nearly CO₂-neutral fuel (eFuel) in Punta Arenas, Chile.

The ground-breaking ceremony for this pioneering synthetic ethanol was for a pilot plant being built north of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia, which is expected to produce around 130,000 litres of eFuels in 2022.

The capacity will then be expanded in two stages to around 55m litres by 2024 and to around 550m by 2026. The necessary environmental permits have now been obtained by the Chilean project company Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF). Siemens Energy has also already started preparatory work for the next major commercial phase of the project.

Porsche will be using the eFuels in its own combustion engine vehicles. R&D chief Michael Steiner said eFuels would make it possible to reduce fossil CO₂-emissions in combustion engines by up to 90%. The first fuel from Chile will be used in its Mobil 1 Supercup race cars from 2022.

The Haru Oni project takes advantage of the perfect climatic conditions for wind energy in Magallanes province in southern Chile to produce the virtually CO₂-neutral fuel using low-cost wind power. In the first step, electrolysers split water into oxygen and green hydrogen. CO₂ is then filtered from the air and combined with hydrogen to produce synthetic methanol, which in turn is converted into eFuel.

The pilot plant is scheduled to start production in mid-2022. In addition to Siemens Energy, Porsche and HIF, Enel, ExxonMobil, Gasco and ENAP are participating in the project.