Currently reading: McLaren advocates synthetic fuel as alternative to EVs
Boss Jens Ludmann reckons that battery-electric alternative could lower emissions and be more practical than other power sources
Jim Holder
News
2 mins read
9 April 2020

McLaren is advancing plans to create a development car that runs on synthetic fuel to prove the technology’s validity as an alternative to battery-electric vehicles for lowering the ecological impact of motoring, COO Jens Ludmann has revealed.

While the project is still in the planning stage, Ludmann revealed that the company believes synthetic fuels can be a viable alternative to electric power if the production of batteries is included as part of an EV’s total CO2 impact.

Ludmann said: “The technology around synthetic fuels is still being developed, but if you consider that it can be produced using solar energy, easily transported and then pumped [into cars] as we know today, there are potential benefits in terms of emissions and practicality that I’m keen to explore.

“Today’s engines would need only small modifications, and I would like to see this technology get some more airtime.”

However, Ludmann stressed that he doesn’t envisage synthetic fuel engines replacing battery-electric vehicles.

“It’s too hard to say with certainty how far off synthetic fuel is from reaching production reality,” he said, “whereas battery technology is here. Then you also have the potential to combine synthetic fuel with a hybrid system, which would make it cleaner still.

“I’m not saying this to hold back battery technology but rather to highlight that there could be valid alternatives that we should consider.”

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Comments
25

9 April 2020

Synthetic fuel has to be part of the mix in my opinion. Rather than use valuable arable crops as bio fuels, you could theoretically make it out of rotting waste product that is otherwise just binned. EVs offer many compelling advantages but the batteries are problematic.

9 April 2020
Great idea but is it scalable? I can see it being a solution for classic car collections but I can't see it making viable for every Tom Dick and Harry to put in his Audi A3. Hopefully I'm wrong.

9 April 2020

emssions. It gets worse when people start using crop to produce fuels, instead of feeding the hungry. I rather see hydrogen further developed. Having more and more electric cars with battery packs that weigh a multitude of what the usually single occupant (driver) is weighing, and that feed off the grid, may well not be sustainable. Car makers should use their clean ICE technology on bigger vehicles, in particularly diesel, how odd that may sounds. Has to do with the energy density of fossil fuels.

9 April 2020

6 metric tons of batteries in the floor, is frankly ridiculous. That's the weight of 4-5 compact cars permanently on board, all the time, no matter how big the cargo is (could be tulips from Holland)...

10 April 2020

Not sure what point you are trying to make. Tesla have already factored this in and are going to be churning these semis out in the next 18 months. The batteries are heavy but this is Musk you are talking about and I am sure they will get lighter and more efficient over time

9 April 2020
voyager12 wrote:

emssions. It gets worse when people start using crop to produce fuels, instead of feeding the hungry. I rather see hydrogen further developed. Having more and more electric cars with battery packs that weigh a multitude of what the usually single occupant (driver) is weighing, and that feed off the grid, may well not be sustainable. Car makers should use their clean ICE technology on bigger vehicles, in particularly diesel, how odd that may sounds. Has to do with the energy density of fossil fuels.

 

There is a very important distinction between bio fuels and synthetic fuels. Yes, burning synthetic fuels will create emissions but so does most electricity generation at present - and if synthetic fuels are created from waste that would otherwise rot and emit emissions anyhow, we might be onto something. 

9 April 2020
voyager12 wrote:

emssions. It gets worse when people start using crop to produce fuels, instead of feeding the hungry. I rather see hydrogen further developed. Having more and more electric cars with battery packs that weigh a multitude of what the usually single occupant (driver) is weighing, and that feed off the grid, may well not be sustainable. Car makers should use their clean ICE technology on bigger vehicles, in particularly diesel, how odd that may sounds. Has to do with the energy density of fossil fuels.

Youre cearly getting confused with synthetic fuels and biofuels and it should be pointed out that biofuels are also part of the solution and they DO NOT affect "the hungry" - 1kg of protein from meat takes 5 TIMES more energy to produce than 1kg of protein from plants, animal protein is an unnecessary luxury, there is more than enough room on the planet to grow a fair proportion of bio fuels and enough food for eveyone if we stop or at least drastically reduce the unnecessary luxury that is meat.

 

Also fuels from waste bio materials count as bio fuels too, you know the stuff we currently just throw away.

9 April 2020

If it doesn't then its still "old tech" in new clothes.  Battery tech will improve.

9 April 2020
Rtfazeberdee wrote:

If it doesn't then its still "old tech" in new clothes.  Battery tech will improve.

 

Bollox... "doesn't" -->  should be "does"

9 April 2020

Great idea and worth pursuing to see if it is a viable proposition for the future. 

Good job McLaren! 

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