Porsche 911 summits the tallest volcano on Earth
Driver Romain Dumas sets new world record using e-fuels in Chile
On Saturday December 2 at 3.58pm racing driver Romain Dumas set a new world record at the peak of the west ridge of the Ojos del Salado volcano in Chile in a Porsche 911 running on e-fuels.
The record-setting drive followed an exploratory run in 2022.
Nevado Ojos del Salado is a dormant volcano in the Andes mountain range on the Argentina-Chile border. It last erupted about 250 years ago, and with a peak of 6,734m above sea level it is rated as the highest volcano on Earth. To put that in context, the peak altitude achieved equates to 1,934m beyond the summit of Mont Blanc. The previous record, set in 2020, was 6,694m.
The air at that altitude was only about half as dense as at sea level, while temperatures hovered near 20° below freezing. The pair of modified Porsche 911 models, nicknamed “Doris” and “Edith”, had special off-road conversions, but the 3.0l engine was the standard 911 Carrera 4S with all-wheel drive and 330kW on tap, paired with the seven-speed manual transmission using factory-filled lubricants.
Both cars were running entirely on HIF Global e-fuels created in Chile. E-fuels are made from water and carbon dioxide using renewable energy, enabling a potential near-net CO₂ neutral use of combustion engines, since the CO₂ captured during the production process of e-fuels roughly equals the CO₂ emitted driving the car.
Porsche has invested in e-fuels as part of its “double e-path” to power sports cars past, present and future. The first integrated pilot plant to produce synthetic fuels, “Haru Oni” in Punta Arenas, Chile, started production at the end of 2022.
The standard systems on the 911 sensed the thinner air and adjusted the fuelling accordingly, meaning performance was maximised. Modifications to the cars for the expedition included carbon fibre seats with five-point harnesses, portal axles that increased ground clearance to 350mm and underbody protection to allow sliding over rocks.
The lead car received a special additional piece of technology — steer by wire — developed and provided by Schaeffler Group. The system allowed Dumas to place the car precisely where he needed it.
Unlike in 2022, the team encountered relatively little snow at the higher levels of the volcano. But the challenge remained formidable, including finding a path through the boulder fields. The 911 traversed the deep gravel and volcanic ash that forms the slopes, its all-wheel drive system and Warp Connector allowing grip to be maintained.
Two doctors formed part of the team and closely monitored the heart rates, sleeping patterns and other risks to health brought on by the mix of the thin air and freezing temperatures.
“I’ll never forget this experience. It was an extraordinary feeling to drive where no car has gone before. The 911 managed to go higher than any other earthbound vehicle in history. We reached a point where we could go no higher,” said Dumas, who also holds the fastest record at the Pikes Peak hill climb in the US driving the electric Volkswagen ID R racer.
“Congratulations to the whole team — a remarkable and inspiring achievement,” said Frank Walliser, vice-president Complete Vehicle Architecture and Characteristics at Porsche AG.
“This project began as a ‘what if’ and I’m so proud to work for a company that really believes in pushing the boundaries and learning by exploring.”
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