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Engine testing shows biofuel DMF produces competitive combustion and emissions qualities to gasoline

Testing in a single cylinder direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI) test engine comparing ethanol, gasoline and 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF), using the optimized spark timings for each fuels, found that DMF produces competitive combustion and emissions qualities to gasoline, which, in some cases surpass ethanol. (Earlier post.)

Recent work has improved the high yield conversion of biomass-derived carbohydrates to DMF, and there is growing interest in using this as a bio-based substitute for petroleum-derived gasoline. DMF has a volumetric energy density similar to that of gasoline formulations and 40% greater than that of ethanol.

The paper by the team from the University of Birmingham (UK), Newcastle University (UK), and Xi’an Jiaotong University (China) is in press in the journal Fuel.

The two biofuels have a higher burning rate and lower initial combustion duration than gasoline. They also produce greater combustion efficiency, which helps to lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions. These initial results highlight how DMF, which was originally only considered as an octane improver, has the potential to become a competitive renewable gasoline alternative.

—Daniel et al.


  • Ritchie Daniel, Guohong Tian, Hongming Xu, Miroslaw L. Wyszynski, Xuesong Wu, and Zuohua Huang (2010) Effect of spark timing and load on a DISI engine fuelled with 2,5-dimethylfuran. Fuel, in press doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2010.10.008


Henry Gibson

It is toxic so obviously it cannot be used. All peple have to do is say that it is toxic so it cannot be used anywhere for any purpose except when the toxic substance has a highly paid lobby group like the nicotine in tobacco. I would gladly swallow a gram of plutonium 239 oxide if any nuclear power opponent would swallow a gram of nicotine. Perhaps I would let them swallow a gram of iron compounds as found in iron deficiency pills. ..HG..

Bioscience Researcher

The following study shows that DMF at low levels is neither toxic nor is it mutagenic:

"Role of activated oxygen species on the mutagenicity of benzo[a]pyrene."

J Appl Toxicol. 1989 Jun;9(3):169-73.

The researchers at the University of Birmingham state that a "full investigation into the unregulated and toxic emissions" will follow. Therefore, it is too early to dismiss such an alternative fuel without first speciating the emissions and better understanding the toxicity of the fuel.

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