Dimethyl ether (DME) is a synthetically produced alternative to diesel for use in specially designed compression ignition diesel engines. Under normal atmospheric conditions, DME is a colourless gas. It is used extensively in the chemical industry and as an aerosol propellant. Dimethyl ether requires about 75 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure to be in liquid form. Because of this, DME's handling requirements are similar to those of propane—both must be kept in pressurized storage tanks at an ambient temperature.
The use of DME in vehicles requires a compression ignition engine with a fuel system specifically developed to operate on DME. A number of DME vehicle demonstrations have been held in Europe and North America, including one in which a customer operated 10 vehicles for 750,000 miles.
DME can be produced directly from synthesis gas produced from natural gas, coal, or biomass. It can also be produced indirectly from methanol via a dehydration reaction.
Renewable Dimethyl ether
Renewable DME (rDME) produced from biomass offers simple and significant opportunities across many industries to enable a partial or complete transition to sustainable, low-carbon, low-emission energy by itself, blended with LPG, or to carry energy from other sources.