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FPT tests dimethyl-ether as alternative fuel source for diesels


January 22, 2021
By Rock to Road

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FPT Industrial is testing dimethyl-ether, or DME, as an alternative fuel on an 11-litre heavy-duty engine in an effort to assess the potential of alternative fuels and e-fuels in reaching the European CO2 emission targets in 2025 and 2030.

DME has been shown to be a suitable fuel for compression ignition engines and can be produced from several renewable sources. Its chemical properties allow for, with the correct engine hardware configuration and calibration, very low NOx and particle emissions, whilst maintaining high engine efficiency. There are, however, some challenges in the use of DME as a fuel, particularly in terms of the fuel injection equipment. 

DME has been industrially used for decades, mainly as a propellant in aerosol cans as it is non-toxic, and odourless.

The goal of the project is to advance the understanding of using DME as an alternative to diesel in the industrial goods sector and demonstrate clean combustion at comparable efficiency levels.FPT Industrial said since DME combustion produces practically no particle emissions, a comparably simple SCR system, without the need for a particle filter may be enough to comply with strict emission standards. 

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The project is funded by SFOE (Swiss federal office for Energy) and the test bench is operated at Empa Dübendorf, where the Company has invested heavily in the infrastructure adaptations necessary for DME. 

The first experimental data are showing some very promising results in terms of CO2 reduction, along with very low NOx and particle emissions, together with similar engine efficiency to Diesel.