Dimethyl Ether (DME)
DME and bioDME have a number of uses in products and are most commonly used as a replacement for propane in liquid petroleum gas (LPG), but can also be used as a replacement for diesel fuel in transportation. Diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon than the gasoline that we use in most passenger cars, and where pure methanol would not be able to power a diesel engine as effectively, DME can.
Today, DME is primarily produced by converting hydrocarbons via gasification to synthesis gas (syngas). Synthesis gas is then converted into methanol in the presence of catalyst (usually copper-based), with subsequent methanol dehydration in the presence of a different catalyst (for example, silica-alumina) resulting in the production of DME.
Besides being able to be produced from a number of renewable and sustainable resources, DME also holds advantage over traditional diesel fuel because of its high cetane number – which measures the combustion quality of diesel fuel during compression ignition. By combusting more thoroughly, an engine tailored to run on DME can achieve higher efficiencies, better mileage and emissions reductions.