The 2005 Professor Ferdinand Porsche Preis—awarded for work which will have a lasting influence of the development of the automobile—recently went to Dr Wolfgang Steiger (Volkswagen) and Dr Wolfgang Warnecke (Shell) for their development of synthetic fuels from natural gas (GTL) and biomass (BTL).
The Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuel now produced by Shell in Malaysia was tested, defined and optimized for the requirements of the automobile in cooperation with Volkswagen Group Research.
The clear synthetic diesel is already being used in a 5% blend in Shell "V-Power-Diesel" in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands and enables improved starting in cold weather conditions and also reduces emissions.
In the award speech, Dr Wendelin Wiedeking, the Chairman of the Board of Management at Porsche AG, noted that the two winners:
...have displayed a high level of innovation with their basic research into the use of synthetic fuels. Against the background of constantly decreasing levels of natural resources and the subsequent increase in price of oil, the results of their scientific work have enormous significance. In only a few years, the positive effects of their results for the automobile industry will be clear in their full scope.
VW has been a consistent advocate of the combination of diesel engines and synthetic fuel as a key bridge technology to future transportation energy systems.
It is a source of fuel which could bridge the gap until there is a sufficient availability of hydrogen and with it the series production of the fuel cell and which can also reduce the one-sided dependency on oil that we can see today.
The most impressive aspect of this approach is the possibility to synthesize a fully-defined end-product from a large number of organic substances.—Professor Dr Bernhard Geringer, Head of the Institute for Internal Combustion Engines at the Technical University in Vienna