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China to Start Construction of Largest Yet Coal to Dimethyl Ether Project

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.


Vin Diesel

Does the technology reduce overall CO2 output?

Yes, DME is a very clean fuel, but is this going to simply replace the CO2 from the user end to the production end?
If so, this will allow China to reduce pollution in the cities while emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases from coal-to-DME plants in Inner Mongolia, far from civilization!!!

Cheryl Ho

China is already most advanced in commercial use of DME as a mixture with LPG. China is mainly interested in DME production from their own coal resources as national policy. South Korea is also interested in DME. As KOGAS is predominant in handling gas in South Korea , MOU for market study in South Korea has been signed between TOTAL and KOGAS quite recently. Their interest of DME is for LPG market as well as fuel for diesel trucks.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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