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AMF - Implementing Agreement on Advanced Motor Fuels

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Annex 14: Feasibility of DME as a Fuel in Diesel Engines

Final Report

DME as an Automotive Fuel - not available electronically


Since a few years Dimethyl-ether (DME) is considered as a serious alternative fuel for diesel engines. The two main reasons to use DME are: Energy security: DME can be produced from natural gas and other carbonatious feedstock (including biomass). These feedstock are in abundant supply when compared to crude oil. The exhaust and noise emissions of an engine running on DME are much better than a similar engine running on diesel fuel. Smoke is almost non-existent and also NOx emissions can be reduced to very low levels. DME is a liquid gas which can easily be stored on board the vehicle.

Annex XIV is split up in seven tasks. An overview of the work and the companies involved is given below:

1. Trade-off fuel quality versus costs: Haldor Topsoe (DK) and Statoil (N): Production costs can be reduced if small percentages of methanol and water are allowed. The trade-off costs-quality will be investigated to weigh the cost advantage of the lower fuel pureness against possible additional costs to prevent corrosion or leakage.

2. Safety investigation (DME distribution and vehicles): Renault (F), Akzo-Nobel (NL), TNO-WT and TNO-MEP (NL) and NRCanada (CDN): This will include guidelines for DME distribution and for installation of DME equipment into a vehicle and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) of DME equipment.

3. Design guidelines: AVL-List (A), AET (CDN), Renault (F) and DTU (DK): Objective is to prevent unsafe installation of DME equipment into vehicles (similar to task 2): This consists of FMEA for DME fuel injection systems, guidelines for specifying parts to be used with DME and collection of DME properties.

4. DME from renewable feedstock: IEA-AFIS (Atrax Energi, S): Production of DME from biomass is important for future sustainable energy supply. Production of bio-DME is similar to production of bio-methanol. The work consists of a review of (near) available technologies for DME production from wood.

5. Life cycle analysis (LCA): IEA-AFIS (Innas, NL), Amoco (USA), Statoil (N), Haldor Topsoe (DK), Volvo Truck (S), Renault (F) and TN-WT (NL): This is a study to compare the environmental effects of DME with other fuels. The emphasis will be on well to wheel greenhouse gas emissions and energy utilisation. Oil and gas companies, vehicle manufacturers, research institutes and an engineering company will work together to achieve results with high credibility.

6. Costs of DME infrastructure: IEA-AFIS (Innas), Statoil (N) and Amoco ( USA ): An evaluation of the costs of a DME distribution infrastructure.

7. Workshops / newsletters: TNO-WT (NL): A total of five DME workshops are currently planned. The objectives are a) to evaluate progress and results of the first 6 tasks and b) to exchange information on new developments related to DME.


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Operating Agent

Ton van Doorn
TNO Automotive, The Netherlands