Porsche Price 2005

Liquid fuel from natural gas and biomass

Shell technicians and VW technicians awarded

Today, the world’s most highly endowed automotive engineering award was awarded at the TU Wien to Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Warnecke (Shell) and Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Steiger (VW) for the development of liquid fuel from natural gas (GTL) and biomass (BTL) and its use in automobiles.

The “Professor Ferdinand Porsche Award 2005” of the TU Wien is endowed with EUR 50,000 by Porsche Holding, Salzburg, and Porsche AG, Stuttgart, and is awarded to technicians whose inventions have a lasting influence on developments in the automobile.

Behind the acronym GTL (Gas to Liquids) and BTL (Biomass to Liquids) stands one of the most sensational developments in alternative fuels. These synthetic fuels make it possible to use new energy sources and thus reduce dependence on petroleum. They also burn with fewer pollutants. “It is a fuel source that can serve as an important intermediate stage until hydrogen is sufficiently available and thus the fuel cell can be used in series production, reducing today’s one-sided dependence on petroleum,” pointed out Prof. Dr. Bernhard Geringer, head of the Institute of Internal Combustion Engines and Automotive Engineering at the TU Wien. Geringer added: “The impressive thing about this approach is the possibility of synthesizing a well-defined end product from a variety of organic starting substances.”

The development aims to alleviate the fuel shortage by including additional primary energy sources as fuels. In this context, natural gas-based primary energy forms the first phase toward GTL, also known as synfuel. In addition, renewable sources, starting with biomass and thus bioenergy, form a second phase toward BTL, or “sunfuel”. “The final, ultimate solution could then be hydrogen if it is regeneratively produced,” Geringer said.

For the future of fuels, this development brings many new possibilities. For example, natural gas fields that were previously not used or were only used inefficiently can be used for fuel production. Coal can also be used as fuel in this way (CTL – Coal to Liquids), which could be an interesting approach to fuel production in many parts of the world, such as China. The same applies to the biogenic approach, where there is a whole range of feedstocks for liquid fuel production.

The special purity of these liquids, also known as “designer fuels,” has clear advantages regarding consumption and pollutant emissions (the reduction potential is up to 50 percent, depending on the pollutant component). In the case of BTL fuels, the closed CO2 cycle is a decisive additional advantage. The CO2 released during combustion in the engine is subsequently bound by the plants back into biomass. The energy for this comes almost entirely from solar energy.

Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, emphasized the importance of the work of the two award winners for sustainable mobility and the future of the automobile in general: “They have demonstrated great innovative spirit with their basic research into the use of synthetic fuels. Against the backdrop of ever-scarcer natural resources and the resulting increase in oil price as a raw material, the results of their scientific work have enormous significance. In just a few years, the positive consequences of their findings will be fully apparent for the automotive industry.”

Now produced by Shell in Malaysia for commercial use, this new synthetic fuel has been tested and defined in collaboration with VW Group Research to meet automotive requirements. This pure, clear synthetic diesel is already blended into Shell’s “V-Power-Diesel” diesel fuel in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, bringing better combustion performance and lower emissions.


The “Professor Ferdinand Porsche Award” of the TU Wien was endowed by Ferdinand Porsche’s daughter, Kommerzialrat Louise Piech, in 1976. In 1977, it was awarded for the first time every two years since 1981 to technicians who provide innovations for the essential development of the automobile.