Preem Opens BioDME Filling Station in Stockholm, 5 Volvo DME Trucks Enter Operation as Part of 2-Year BioDME Field Test
|Volvo FH with a 13-liter engine that runs on DME. Click to enlarge.
Swedish oil company and distributor Preem recently inaugurated a BioDME filling station in Stockholm, and the first five Volvo DME (dimethyl ether) trucks (earlier post) in commercial operation have taken to the road in a two-year field test in Sweden. The test aims to demonstrate the potential for large-scale investment in DME produced from biomass.
The project encompasses the entire technical chain from biomass to fuel, i.e. distribution, filling stations, trucks and haulage firms. Volvo Trucks’ contribution to the project consists of FH DME trucks that will be tested by selected customers in different parts of Sweden.
Volvo’s DME truck uses a 440 hp (328 kW), Euro 5 D13 engine which with some modifications to the tank system, injection system and engine management software. DME is filled in liquid form and stored in pressurized tanks in a leak-proof system. The lower energy content of DME, just over half that of diesel oil, is compensated by fitting larger tanks.
A special fuel pump regulates the pressure in the common rail injection system; the pressure keeps the fuel in liquid form all the way to injection. Special DME injectors have been jointly developed by Volvo and Delphi.
The moving parts in the engine are identical to those in the diesel variant. The engine management software has been modified to suit the different energy content.
|Chemrec black liquor gasification. Click to enlarge.
Production of Bio-DME will take place in Chemrec’s new plant in Piteå. (Earlier post.) The patented Chemrec process is based on high-temperature, entrained flow gasification of black liquor producing high quality syngas—the feedstock for a number of biofuels. The Volvo Group, via its subsidiary Volvo Technology Transfer, is one of the owners of Chemrec.
This autumn, Preem will open additional filling stations in Göteborg, Jönköping and Piteå. In parallel, production of Bio-DME will be ramped up at the Chemrec plant in Piteå.
The haulage companies initially participating in the field test are Green Cargo, DHL, Posten Logistik and Volvo Logistics via J-Trans.
From an over-riding perspective, Bio-DME is one of the most promising second-generation biofuels. It provides both high energy efficiency and extremely low emissions of greenhouse gases. These are the properties we value particularly highly when we analyse potential alternative fuels.—Volvo Trucks’ Environmental Director Lars Mårtensson
Evaluation of the field test and the authorities’ long-term decisions will determine whether large-scale production of Bio-DME will become a reality. In the EU the assessment is that Bio-DME could theoretically replace half of today’s diesel usage for heavy commercial transportation by 2030.
When powering a diesel engine, Bio-DME delivers as high an efficiency rating and a lower noise level compared with traditional engines. Compared with diesel, Bio-DME produces no less than 95% less carbon dioxide emissions; the combustion process also produces very low emissions of particles and nitrogen oxides.
DME is a gas, but it is transformed into liquid form at a pressure of just 5 bar. Handling is similar to that of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). DME can be produced both from natural gas and from various types of biomass. When it is made from biomass, it is known as Bio-DME.
In this project the Bio-DME is produced from black liquor, an energy-rich, viscous by-product of the pulp industry. Chemrec’ pilot plant in Piteå has the capacity to produce four tonnes of Bio-DME a day.
This project is financed by EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, the Swedish Energy Agency and participating companies.