Speaking at the 2009 World Methanol Conference in Miami, Richard J. LeBlanc, CEO of Chemrec, strongly advocated increased efforts to promote the benefits of dimethyl ether (DME) throughout North America.
|Studies of various land-use efficiencies for various biofuels and processes by Volvo AB show, in the lower two bars, the high efficiency of DME as a diesel substitute. Click to enlarge.|
LeBlanc said a collaborative initiative among industry, end-users and government is required to bring the benefits of DME to the forefront of alternative energy discussion in North America, particularly in the US. He noted that DME is more widely produced and accepted in Europe and Asia.
Addressing methanol marketers at the conference, LeBlanc noted that converting methanol into DME offers the methanol industry a new market for its product. DME is synthesized from methanol, whether produced from coal, natural gas or biomass such as harvested forestry wastes.
Chemrec pioneered the Fuels-from-the-Forest biofuels biorefinery concept, which can produce BioDME. Chemrec is currently building BioDME production plants in Sweden. One, a demonstration-scale facility, is scheduled to begin biofuels production in 2010. The other, a commercial-scale plant, is to be in production in 2012. It will produce up to 40 million gallons of BioDME or other renewable motor fuels a year. (Earlier post.)
LeBlanc said a forestry waste BioDME biorefinery integrated with a pulp mill in Michigan or Wisconsin, for instance, would generate enough clean-burning, low-CO2 DME in a year to replace the diesel fuel to power the municipal truck and bus fleets of the cities of Milwaukee or Chicago, as well as non-governmental fleets such as delivery vehicles, for a year.
Truck manufacturer Volvo AB, a partner in the Chemrec demonstration scale BioDME project, plans to test several of its production diesel trucks modified to operate on BioDME throughout Sweden. Earlier studies by Volvo and others have shown that DME made from the Chemrec black liquor gasification process is, of all other tested biofuels, the highest in energy and land use efficiency (it uses non-food feedstocks) while being the lowest in green house gas emissions and overall clean combustion.
Founded in 1989, Chemrec AB along with its subsidiary Chemrec USA is a pioneer of the black liquor gasification biorefinery process and holds a patent on the technology. It has operating biorefinery plants in operation in Sweden and is actively pursuing opportunities with US pulp mills.