Shanghai Daily. Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University are developing a city transit bus that uses dimethyl ether (DME) as a fuel.
DME is a clean-burning (completely sootless) synthetic fuel that can substitute for conventional diesel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or be reformed into hydrogen for fuel cells. As a diesel fuel replacement it reduces NOx emissions 90% and features high cetane. A cetane number marks the ignition quality of a diesel fuel by measuring the delay between the start of injection and combustion. A high cetane number has a shorter delay period and is more desirable. (Earlier post) Part of the interest in DME stems from the ability to produce it from a number of feedstocks: coal, natural gas, biomass. It is of particular interest to countries such as Japan and China.
“The new model is absolutely a significant reform for the city’s public transport industry,” said Huang Zhen, vice dean at the college, adding that the new fuel is cleaner than oil, safer than natural gas and more convenient than hydrogen.
The first DME bus model is still in production, and will be deployed on a trial basis in the first quarter of next year. The Ministry of Science will offer subsidies to produce 30 such buses in Shandong Province in two years.
There are more than 18,000 buses in service in Shanghai, of which only about 145 run on CNG.
The Center for Combustion and Environmental Technology (CCET) at Jiao Tong University is very active in multiple aspects of DME research.