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Germany launches new study of oxymethylene ethers for optimizing clean diesel combustion

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.), BMEL’s central project-coordinating agency in the area of renewable resources, is funding a 3-year study of oxymethylene ethers (OME) as clean diesel fuels with €800,000 (US$894,000).

Oxymethylene ethers (OME) are synthetic compounds of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (CH3O(CH2O)nCH3). Due to their high oxygen concentration, they suppress pollutant formation in combustion. As diesel fuels, they reduce the emission of carbon black and NOx. Ford is currently leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project, co-funded with the German government, to test cars running on monooxymethylene ether (OME1) and DME. (Earlier post.)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is the coordinator of the new project, in cooperation with TU Kaiserslautern and TU München.

Further development of diesel and gasoline fuels now offers the chance of preventing the formation of hazardous exhaust gases directly at their origin, i.e. during combustion in the engine. A promising concept for diesel fuels is the use of oxymethylene ethers.

—Jörg Sauer, Head of the KIT Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology

Not much is known about the effects of OME during engine combustion and other aspects of the use in vehicles, although a number of research groups have begun to explore the topic over the past few years. In the new KIT-led study, comprehensive studies of engine tests will focus on these aspects of application and contribute to revealing the potentials of enhancing efficiency of OME use.

These studies are to provide detailed insight into the relationships between the chemical OME structure and combustion properties. The objective is to demonstrate a highly simplified exhaust gas treatment process without particulate filters and catalytic treatment.

When using OME, fuel may be considered an active substance. This opens up a considerable potential of facilitating the trade-off between consumption and emissions and securing sustainable mobility.

—Georg Wachtmeister, Head of the Institute of Internal Combustion Engines of TU München

Economically efficient production of OME represents a challenge. The OME project will therefore focus on new and efficient processes for its production.

OME might be produced from renewable resources, as is shown by KIT’s bioliq project. (Earlier post.) In this way, these substances would not only contribute to reducing pollutants, but also to decreasing carbon dioxide emission of traffic. The carbon/oxygen/hydrogen ratio of OME is very similar to that of biomass. Production with a high energy and atom efficiency is possible, project researchers said.

Apart from the systematic variation of reaction parameters, such as pressure, temperature and concentration, efficient methods for the processing of OME have to be developed in order to guarantee high fuel quality.

—Jakob Burger, Chair for Thermodynamics of TU Kaiserslautern


  • Martin Härtl, Philipp Seidenspinner, Eberhard Jacob, Georg Wachtmeister (2015) “Oxygenate screening on a heavy-duty diesel engine and emission characteristics of highly oxygenated oxymethylene ether fuel,” Fuel, Volume 153, Pages 328-335 doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2015.03.012

  • Zhi Wang, Haoye Liu, Jun Zhang, Jianxin Wang, Shijin Shuai (2015) “Performance, Combustion and Emission Characteristics of a Diesel Engine Fueled with Polyoxymethylene Dimethyl Ethers (PODE3-4)/ Diesel Blends,” Energy Procedia, Volume 75, Pages 2337-2344 doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2015.07.479

  • Xiaolei Zhang, Amit Kumar, Ulrich Arnold and Jörg Sauer (2014) “Biomass-derived oxymethylene ethers as diesel additives: A thermodynamic analysis” Energy Procedia 61 1921–1924 doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2014.12.242 The 6th International Conference on Applied Energy ICAE2014

  • Jakob Burger, Markus Siegert, Eckhard Ströfer, Hans Hasse (2010) “Poly(oxymethylene) dimethyl ethers as components of tailored diesel fuel: Properties, synthesis and purification concepts,” Fuel, Volume 89, Issue 11, Pages 3315-3319 doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2010.05.014




That ship has sailed you morons. Move on because nobody is going to trust diesels again.


Quite the opposite. Diesels are a mainstay of heavy load motivation. They will be with us for decades to come. Research to improve upon their emissions output is valuable.


Diesels can be converted directly to natural gas engines with nothing more than new injectors and fuel systems.  This flexibility is going to keep them around for quite some time.


There was a group online who put the natural gas into the intake, they ran on both diesel and natural gas.


Carbureted gas is another option, but you can't do stratified charge that way.

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