Xinhua. China is to begin construction of the largest dimethyl ether (DME) project yet with an annual output of 3 million tons. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has banned any coal-based DME project with a design capacity lower than one million tons.
The country’s current annual output is 120,000 tons of DME each year, according to the NDRC.
Participants in the project include power giants China National Coal Group Corporation, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation and the Shanghai-based Shenergy Group.
Located in Ordos in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the project will cost 21 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion), according to a report in Shanghai Securities News.
A pipeline will be built to transfer the DME from Ordos to the port city of Tangshan in north China’s Hebei Province.
Earlier in August, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, signed a financing package for China’s Xinao Group to support another coal to dimethyl ether (DME) project that will be one of the world’s largest. That project is expected to come online in 2009. (Earlier post.)
DME can serve as a synthetic fuel that is to diesel what LPG is to gasoline. It is gaseous at ambient conditions but can be liquefied at moderate pressure. With a high cetane number, DME has very attractive characteristics as an alternative fuel for diesel engines. DME can be blended with LPG in a 15 to 20% blend without any modifications to equipment or used as a replacement.
The Chinese government is supporting the development of DME as a possible alternative to diesel.