Toyota and ExxonMobil partner on synthetic fuel development
Exxon Mobil Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. have partnered to test low-carbon fuel blends in gasoline engines, offering drivers a potential way to reduce emissions without switching to electric vehicles. These fuel blends, made from cleaner feedstocks, could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from internal combustion engines by up to 75% compared to regular gasoline. The fuels, primarily composed of renewable biomass and ethanol produced using cleaner processes, have proven compatible with Toyota vehicles, raising the possibility of a drop-in solution that could compete with battery-powered cars in the future.
However, the fuels are still in the testing phase and would require government policy support to become commercially available. According to Andrew Madden, Exxon’s vice president for strategy and planning, a policy construct that allows the market to innovate and find the lowest-cost way to decarbonize transportation would be ideal. While both Exxon and Toyota have previously pursued moonshot technologies to reduce transportation emissions that failed to meet expectations, they believe that a portfolio approach that includes electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, along with lower-carbon fuels, is necessary to meet climate targets quickly.
E-fuels, also known as synthetic fuels, produce reduced exhaust emissions, but they are not completely emission-free. However, their production process uses renewable energy and carbon capture technology, making them carbon-neutral for the environment.
On the other hand, battery-electric vehicles do not emit any harmful pollutants and are more efficient and cost-effective to operate. However, the current battery technology relies on unsustainable and expensive raw materials. Additionally, the carbon footprint of these vehicles depends on various factors, such as their supply chain, manufacturing processes, and the power source used for charging.
In addition to exploring synthetic fuels, Toyota, along with other carmakers like Hyundai and BMW, is also developing hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which offers a longer driving range and uses a similar production process. Toyota has also invested in hydrogen-combustion engine propulsion, as showcased on the Corolla Cross H2 concept.