German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek recently unveiled an example of a “hyper hybrid” vehicle powered by synthetic methanol, which is based on “green hydrogen” technologies. But while the idea to produce a climate-friendly car is admirable, the vehicle Germany used for the project was quite questionable. This was because the Federal Research Minister’s team opted to use a Tesla Model Y — an all-electric vehicle that is, in many ways, already the pinnacle for efficiency and sustainability — for the project.
Simply put, Germany took a perfectly working battery-electric vehicle, modified it with a synthetic methanol engine, and dubbed it as a work of true innovation. Karliczek, for his part, noted in a press release that such a project is incredibly important since “green hydrogen” is a valuable building block for climate protection.
“Climate protection can only succeed with green hydrogen. That’s why we are already providing massive support for research into the use of green hydrogen, although efforts will have to be stepped up again in the coming years. Especially in industry and transportation, we will continue to need chemical energy sources in the future. Not all industrial processes can be completely decarbonized. CO2 will continue to be produced. We need solutions for this.
“Today we are building a very interesting bridge between these two points: The use of methanol from ‘recycled’ CO2 from industry as a fuel in road transport… But the methanol car itself is also an ‘innovation showcase’ for low-emission, resource- and energy-efficient mobility of tomorrow. Synthetic fuels have an important role to play in making a sustainable, climate-friendly mobility system possible worldwide. This is important in shipping and air travel, or where a charging station for the electric car may not always be available in the future. Especially there, the serial hybrid drive can be a good solution in perspective,” the Federal Research Minister said.
Speaking about the hybrid Model Y project, Prof. Robert Schlögl, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and Carbon2Chem project coordinator, noted that the hybrid technologies used in the initiative present a great synergy between two systems: the efficient electric drivetrain and the easily accessible synthetic fuel methanol.
“The urgency of climate protection requires a rapid and comprehensive entry into renewable energy. In a global market for renewable energy, carbon-based energy sources such as methanol are key building blocks. The serial hybrid drive concept presented here combines the advantages of the efficient electric drive and the energy-dense and easily accessible synthetic fuel methanol. This concept must be further optimized by the research project presented here,” the professor said.
The hybrid Tesla Model Y is part of the Carbon2Chem initiative, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the steel industry. The vehicle is a concept built to showcase how methanol is recycled. The Obrist DE GmbH worked with the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Dresden, and the RWTH Aachen to create the vehicle. About 10 million euros were estimated to have been spent on the methanol-powered Tesla Model Y. That being said, OBRIST Group CEO Frank Wolf remained proud of the project’s end result.
“Our HyperHybrid powertrain, whose zero-vibration generator produces electricity with green methanol, is an essential innovation for globally deployable, efficient, and emission-neutral e-mobility – in other words, a car with green liquid electricity in the tank!” Wolf said.
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