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Ford developing DME fueled cars

11 September 2015

Ford Motor Company announced that it is leading a €3.5 million research project to develop and test the first-ever cars fueled by dimethyl ether (DME) and oxymethylene ether (OME1). The project is co-founded by the German government.

Both ethers, which will power cars based on the Ford Mondeo, offer the potential for extremely low particulate emissions and enhanced fuel efficiency, said Ford. DME (used as an aerosol spray propellant) and OME1 (a chemical solvent) are normally produced from fossil natural gas, and can be also generated from biogas.

A parallel project together with RWTH Aachen University will investigate the viability of different DME generation methods, looking at conversion efficiency, estimated fuel prices and infrastructure aspects. One of the production methods to be researched is a novel power-to-liquid process using renewable sources such as solar or wind power and CO2 captured from the air. It is estimated that DME from renewable energy sources could offer well-to-wheel emissions of about 3 g/km CO2 (compared to 113 g/km CO2 for diesel).

“The growth of the world’s population is putting ever-increasing demands on energy and especially fossil fuels. Alternative, renewable fuels like methyl ethers will play a pivotal role in the future,” said Andreas Schamel, Ford’s director Global Powertrain Research & Advanced Engineering.

Both DME and OME1 are compatible with compression ignition, but produce very low PM emissions. Ford expects that the converted DME/OME1 engines will deliver comparable performance to the original diesel engine.

Like liquefied petroleum gas, DME must be stored in a slightly pressurized tank. OME1 can be stored in a conventional tank system. The DME-powered engines are expected to benefit from almost soot-free combustion, higher thermal efficiency and excellent cold start properties.

The project partners include Ford European Research & Innovation Center, Aachen, Germany, RWTH Aachen University, the Technical University of Munich, FVV, TÜV, DENSO, IAV Automotive Engineering, and Oberon Fuels. DME from Oberon has received approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency as a biogas-based fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Source: Ford


Dimethyl Ether