Waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer Enerkem has produced a clean, renewable bio-dimethyl ether (Bio-DME), a by-product of biomethanol with potential to replace the use of diesel fuel in the transportation sector.

The company’s proprietary thermochemical technology was used to test and validate the production of fuel-grade bio-DME made from unrecoverable carbon-rich municipal solid waste. More than 1,000 hours of operations at its Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec, have been completed.

Bio-DME offers a 20% higher cetane rating on average than diesel or bio-diesel fuels (cetane rating is to diesel engine what octane rating is to gasoline engine). DME combustion does not produce sulfur oxide (SOx) or fine particles, and it contributes to lower emissions from other harmful residual pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) that are mainly produced from the combustion of fossil-based fuels.

In addition to the various environmental and economic advantages, there are many possible applications for waste-derived bio-DME fuel. For example, it could replace diesel fuels used in cars, trucks, trains or even ships, while providing better, cleaner combustion.

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