Volvo to sell DME-powered vehicles in North America

Volvo Trucks becomes the first manufacturer to announce plans to commercialize dimethyl ether (DME) fuel-powered heavy duty trucks.


Because DME produces no soot, no diesel particulate filter (DPF) is necessary. In addition to the weight savings from the removal of the DPF, DME tanks are considerably lighter than comparable CNG or LNG tanks and considerably less complex.

DME is non-toxic, and is already used as an aerosol propellant in cosmetics and other household products. It can be made from a variety of sustainable feedstocks, including biogas from food and animal waste, wastewater treatment facilities and landfills. When produced from biomass or biogas, DME can provide up to a 95 percent CO2 reduction compared to diesel.

Oberon Fuels has developed new skid-mounted, small-scale production units that can cost-effectively convert biogas and natural gas into DME. The first of Oberon's innovative production units will go online in June in California's Imperial Valley region.

"Our small-scale process enables the utilization of regional feedstocks to produce DME," said Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., president of Oberon Fuels. "Cost-effective, regional fuel production addresses the distribution issue, and offers the potential to bypass the need for a national fueling infrastructure, while reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting the feedstock and the fuel produced."

Volvo has conducted extensive customer field tests of the technology in real-world applications, both in the U.S. and in Europe, resulting in 650,000 on-highway miles.

"We are proud to be a leader in providing alternative transportation solutions to the market," Nyberg said. "It is clear that DME technology shows great potential for North America, and allows Volvo to further its commitment to both our customers and the environment."

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