Official news from Mack today (and for that matter Volvo) that starting in 2015 the production of dimethyl ether (DME) powered Pinnacle Axle Back models will begin. If you’ve never heard of DME don’t worry, you’re in good company. According to the news release dimethyl ether is a fuel that can be produced from a variety of natural food stocks including animal waste, food waste, grass clippings and even natural gas which happens to be a very plentiful resource in North America. But wait, there’s more! DME burns so clean there is no soot which means there is no need for any filters or fluids to meet emission standards. This sounds like quite the technological breakthrough! In my eyes the most interesting part of the news release revolved around the ability to produce DME in small regional batches. From what I understand a DME producing facility can exist in the back lot of your local trucking company. In theory this would eliminate the need for the extensive and expensive fuel distribution system of modern times that is so often affected by external events that in turn increase price.
Will DME work as promised? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure. The reduction of America’s dependence on foreign oil is worth the work.
You can read the full press release by clicking here.
It is an interesting move at a time when natural gas (CNG or LNG) is becoming the new topic of curiosity in the industry. With the Marcellus Shale find, natural gas has become plentiful and cheap. However, the big road block is fueling locations, a situation which is changing as facilities pop up more & more. Second to that is the high cost of the Cummins-Westport engines and the fuel tanks.
I imagine this will be the challenge with the DME fuel as well – where can I fuel up if I don’t invest in my own system? It will be very interesting to see how the system prices up.
Ive worked with alternate fuels most of my career..fleet conversions to Naural gas, even porposals for LNG truck fueling ..as well as 10kw Fuel Cell project for the Army.
Natural gas as a vehicle fuel (CNG) has been around since the early 90’s. It may have some applications for limited miles fleet vehicles that return to a filling hose, has natural ga pipes there, and can refuel overnight. I do not belive it has any legs. It requires not ony a filling station but few people would be comfortable with a steel tank, wrapped in fiberglass tape, with a regulator siting a couple of inces from the kids in the back seat. It’s going nowhere ad I don;t know why people are still dicussing it. LNG..no. a cryogenic -260 degree fluid? way to volatile and the supply is limited to Natural Gas Utilities that are mostly up north and liquifythe gas to use for winter peak shaving capacity.
DME will be the fuel of choice. Look at Oberon or Alternative Fuel Technology, or the International DME Associations webbsite for mor info. Now that a common rail pump has been ugraded to resolve the wear isses caused by the low lubricity (DME is like JP-8) its ready to go.
As far as infratructure…Oberon has a skid mounted DME facility that can be put about anywhere.. it is stred like propane – low pressure – so it has an infratructure that many are familiar with and comfortable with. It produces zero soot, it is largely nn-toxic (its in your aerosol cans) no no train wrecks polluting like oil.
It’s at the point of critical mass this year. There is an article I read recently “DME the best fuel you never heard of” Interesting read.
Best to all
Thanks for stopping by. Higher fuel prices and global tensions have certainly pushed the development of new energy sources. Like they say, necessity is the mother of all invention.
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