Performance and Emissions of Second Generation Biofuel DME

Principal Investigator(s):

David Kittelson, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

Bio-DME has the highest well-to-wheel energy efficiency and lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any biomass to liquid fuel. It has excellent combustion properties with very low gaseous emissions and soot-free combustion; it is non-toxic and biodegradable. Bio-DME is produced from biomass by gasification. The first pilot plants being built in Sweden will produce Bio-DME by gasification of black liquor, a waste stream in pulp mills that is usually used for process heat. The potential for fuel production by gasification of Minnesota biomass is very large. If gasification plants were built to process the main potential biomass sources, Minnesota could produce about 120 percent of our Diesel fuel needs or 500 percent of our propane needs. This project involves demonstrating the performance and emissions of dimethyl ether (DME) as a propane replacement and as a Diesel fuel, with the specific project goals of (1) developing cost-effective DME fuel systems; (2) identifying and solving performance and emission problems; and (3) raising the profile of this second-generation biofuel in the U.S. Toward these ends, DME fuel systems will be designed and developed for two applications: (1) as a blended fuel with propane in spark ignition engines, and (2) as a Diesel fuel. Laboratory tests of performance and emissions will be conducted along with field trials. Economic and life cycle analysis will also be performed.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2011021
  • Start date: 07/2010
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment