As the world scrambles to clean up its environmental footprint, Koenigsegg is going its own way by rejecting the push for all-out electrification and exploring eco-friendly alternative fuels, one of which is produced from volcanic activity.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, company founder, Christian von Koenigsegg reiterated his company’s commitment to being “propulsion agnostic”.
A fancy term for using drivetrains with a mix of electric propulsion and fuel combustion technology depending on the model and its application, instead of committing to a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Koenigsegg’s current model line-up is reflective of that agnostic approach, with its hybrid Regera, V8 twin-turbo Jesko, and Gemera three-cylinder twin-turbo plug-in hybrid.
Besides developing and adopting a mix-and-match approach to their powertrain options, Koenigsegg is also looking into adopting the use of environmentally friendly synthetic fuels. One of which, is said to be derived from volcanic sources.
“There is this technology from Iceland, it was invented there, where they cap the CO2 emittance from semi-active volcanoes and convert that into methanol,” said von Koenigsegg.
“And if you take that methanol and you power the plants that do the conversion of other fuels and then power the ship that transports those fuels, wherever it goes, you put the completely CO2-neutral fuel into the vehicle.”
In the interview, Koenigsegg doesn’t specifically name the technology or who possesses it. However, he is likely referring to Carbon Recycling International (CRI), an Icelandic company specialising in environmentally friendly energy solutions.
Currently, CRI operates an emissions-to-liquid (ETL) plant known as the George Olah Renewable Methanol plant in Svartsengi, Iceland.
Operational since 2012, the George Olah plant is touted as the world’s first industrial-scale CO2-derived fuel producer.
Thanks to Iceland’s volcanic landscape, the plant is in a prime location to harvest bountiful supplies of CO2 gases emitted from nearby geothermal plants.
The collected CO2 gas is compressed and synthesised with hydrogen harvested from the electrolysis process of water to form pure methanol known as Vulcanol.
According to an audit performed by SGS Germany, the plant’s production is said to achieve a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions as compared to petrol or diesel. Not entirely emissions-free, but better than burning coal for electricity or dedicated vast swathes of farmland for fuel crops.
CRI believes that the plant can produce up to 5 million litres of methanol annually, which is enough to supplant 2.5% of the Icelandic petrol usage.
While Koenigsegg doesn’t state any firm commitments to CRI’s methanol production, Geely has stepped up to invest in the company, with the hopes of finding a breakthrough in their gamble on methanol-powered vehicles.
Earlier this year, CRI begun work on a new ETL plant in Anyang, Henan province of China. The plant is expected to commence methanol production before the end of the year, and its preliminary estimates put this plant’s production capacity on a much larger scale.
While the George Olah plant boasts an annual CO2 recycling capacity of 5500 tons, the Anyang plant will recycle “over 160,000 tons”, equal to the emissions of nearly 60,000 cars.
So volcano-powered cars? Not really, but it could be a reality soon enough through association.