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DME

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels

March 27, 2014

Ice
WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D) and CONCAWE (the oil companies European association for environment, health and safety in refining and distribution)—have published a new version of the Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context. (Earlier post.)

The updated version includes a longer-term outlook by expanding the time horizon from 2010 and beyond to 2020 and beyond. It adds an assessment of electrically chargeable vehicle configurations, such as plug-in hybrid, range extended, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. It also introduces an update of natural gas pathways, taking into account the addition of a European shale gas pathway. Furthermore, biofuel pathways, including an entirely new approach to NOx emissions from farming, were thoroughly revised.

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Australia CSIRO and India CSIR launch A$6M partnership on dimethyl ether

October 10, 2013

Australia’s CSIRO and its equivalent in India, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have launched a three-year, A$6-million (US$5.6-million) collaboration focused on improving processes involved in the production of dimethyl ether (DME), a clean-burning synthetic liquid fuel.

DME is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic and can be produced from natural gas (NG), coal, biomass, or even directly from carbon dioxide. It offers diesel-quality performance with a high cetane number and low auto-ignition temperature, but burns cleanly without producing any soot. The carbon intensity of the DME will vary with the feedstock.

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Dutch/Russian effort to commercialize new process to convert flared gas to gasoline via a DME pathway

July 16, 2013

The independent Dutch research organization TNO is working with the Russian A.V. Topchiev Institute for Petrochemical Synthesis (TIPS) on marketing a new technology developed by TIPS to convert flared gases into hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline. The new method offers a range of benefits compared with the common, but nearly hundred-year old, Fischer-Tropsch process, the partners said.

The conventional way to make gasoline from gas is to convert the gas to a synthesis gas, then into methanol, followed by conversion to straight-chain hydrocarbons and finally via reforming into a high-octane hydrocarbon blend. The method developed by TIPS skips the conversion into methanol; the synthesis gas is converted into dimethylether (DME) as the step preceding the direct synthesis of branched hydrocarbons with a high octane number.

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New study on DME auto-ignition at engine-relevant conditions

June 08, 2013

Dimethyl ether (DME) is of interest as an alternative fuel for compression ignition (CI) engines due to its ease of production and advantageous properties as a diesel alternative. As an example of that interest, Volvo Trucks has just announced its intent to begin production of DME-fueled heavy-duty trucks in North America in 2015. (Earlier post.)

DME offers a high cetane number of 55 and low auto-ignition temperature (making it desirable for diesel engine operation), and has been shown to reduce significantly diesel engine particulate emissions as well as NOx, SOx, and CO emissions. However, the characteristics of DME autoignition at CI engine-relevant conditions have not been widely explored at this point. Partly addressing that lack is a new study by researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; their paper is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Volvo Trucks to begin limited production of DME heavy-duty trucks in NA in 2015; customer trials; Oberon partnership

June 07, 2013

Volvo VNL w D13-DME 3
Volvo VNL D13 with DME. Click to enlarge.

At an event in Sacramento, California, Volvo Trucks announced that it will commercialize dimethyl ether (DME)-powered heavy-duty commercial vehicles in North America, with limited production beginning in 2015. Volvo also revealed ongoing customer field testing of DME trucks in the US (with Safeway and Martin Transportation), as well as its partnership in the customer trials with startup DME producer Oberon Fuels. Oberon Fuels is the first company to announce plans to commercialize DME fuel production in North America. (Earlier post.)

DME offers diesel-quality performance with a high cetane number and low auto-ignition temperature, but burns cleanly without producing any soot. It is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and can be made from a variety of sustainable domestic sources, as well as from North America’s abundant supply of natural gas. The carbon intensity of the DME will vary with the feedstock, but with the use of bio-gas (biomethane) from an anaerobic digester as input into the Oberon process, DME can provide up to a 95% CO2 reduction compared to diesel. Volvo has been testing Bio-DME in Sweden since 2009. (Earlier post.)

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