Explaining Koenigsegg’s Volcano-Based Biofuel

There are many ways to create biofuel from a wide range of natural resources, which typically involves distilling a natural resource into methanol and then using a production line and industrial conveyor belt cleaners to cleanly convert biological fuels into fuels that can be used in combustion engines.

The hypercar company Koenigsegg, who are not exactly known for their subtlety, have opted for a rather different approach by taking advantage of volcanic eruptions to make biofuel.

The endeavour, spearheaded by founder Christian von Koenigsegg and undertaken by biofuel company Carbon Recycling International, involves capturing the intense heat and carbon dioxide of semi-active volcanoes.

Volcanic activity is not well defined, but a semi-active volcano is one that is emitting carbon dioxide and other gases but has not erupted in the last 10,000 years.

This process, CRI claims, can reduce carbon emissions by over 90 per cent compared to traditional fossil fuels.

Koenigsegg’s interest in this technology is one of expansion; as a company known for exceptionally fast and fuel-guzzling hypercars that are sold for millions and are produced at a rate of around 35 per year are looking to double their factory space and boost production to thousands.

The car industry in general is looking away from fossil fuels and towards a carbon-neutral or net-negative alternative fuel solution, but a consensus has still not been reached as to what this new fuel will look like.

Many mass-produced car companies are moving towards battery electric or plug-in hybrid engines, which are electrically powered motors that derive their energy purely through batteries or through a petrol or diesel-powered generator.

These cars are highly efficient and much of the infrastructure and technology is already in place, but range is a significant problem affecting their use for long-distance travel and freight. As well as this, battery life is highly variable based on temperature, weather and driving conditions.

Charging electric cars outside of a plug-in hybrid model is also time-consuming, and can take between two and 14 hours for an EV to be fully charged depending on the type of charger used.

Hydrogen fuel cells, where hydrogen reacts with oxygen to create electricity which powers an electric motor, are more promising for long-distance travelling but requires large-scale infrastructure development to ensure hydrogen refuelling stations are widely available.

As well as this, how environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel is depends entirely on its production methods, and the majority of hydrogen was produced by reforming methane, a process that emits carbon dioxide.

An alternate solution to this is to develop ways to produce fuel that can be used by existing engines at a much lower carbon cost.

Vulcanol, as well as similar synthetic fuels such as Porsche’s experimental eFuel, work in the same way as fossil fuels but in theory could be produced in a climate-neutral way.

Whilst new petrol and diesel cars are set to be phased out by the year 2030 in the UK, finding ways to reduce the carbon cost of the millions of cars on the road without major investment from road users could potentially have a major effect.