Shell doesn’t give up on petrol and diesel yet
Posted On September 28, 2017
Traditional fuels such as petrol and diesel will continue to play a major role in road traffic for many years to come. This is the belief of Wolfgang Warnecke, chief science officer mobility at Shell. He speaks today during an energy startup festival.
“There still is a lot of gain in efficiency to get from fossil fuels”, says Warnecke, who is convinced that the combustion engine will play a major role for at least thirty years from now.
For the reduction of CO2-emissions in the near future he believes it is better to focus on cleaner combustion engines.
Expensive new technologies
The improvement of combustion engines will need new technology. “To make diesel engines more efficient you need to get the combustion temperature as high as possible, which causes more Nitrogen Oxides-emissions and that is bad for the air quality”, Warnecke illustrates the challenge.
He sees hope in the recent development of cleaner truck engines, with heavily reduced NOX-emissions. Expensive technology that can find its way to higher middle class cars via higher priced diesel SUV’s.
The hybrid petrol engine also has a bright future, with liquid (LPG) or compressed (CNG) natural gas as a valuable compromise.
According to the Shell-scientist there still are too much disadvantages linked to batteries, such as high costs, weight, long charging times and reduced range. For long distance driving he sees sustainable hydrogen as a more logical source of energy. Even if the infrastructure is still non-existing and the cost is still too high.
Although in the long run sustainable electric power will take over the major role, combustion engines will remain indispensable for certain kinds of transport. “This can be CO2-neutral biogas or diesel and new synthetic fuels. By taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and making a chemical reaction with sustainable hydrogen, methane gas can be produced as an engine fuel”, Warnecke says.
Mobility as a service
“At the end of the day, we will have to say goodbye to one source of power, such as the combustion engine today. But the alternatives will depend, among others, on the development of the self driving car. If people are ready to buy it, they will replace their car by a mobility service”, is his conclusion.