Enerkem Develops Biomethanol Byproduct With Potential for Transportation

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Montreal, Quebec-based Enerkem Inc., a producer of biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste, has produced a renewable bio-dimethyl ether (bio-DME), a byproduct of biomethanol, that can potentially be used in the transportation sector as a replacement for diesel.

Using its proprietary thermochemical technology, the company has tested and validated the production of fuel-grade bio-DME made from unrecoverable carbon-rich municipal solid waste. Enerkem says it has completed more than 1,000 hours of operations at its Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec.

“Diesel fuels are three times more polluting than a waste-derived, DME-based fuel,” says Dr. Stéphane Marie-Rose, director of Enerkem’s Innovation Centre. “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Climate Change Synthesis report, more than seven gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent are attributed to the transportation sector globally. By replacing diesel fuel with a clean, renewable, bio-based fuel alternative, such as bio-DME, we could significantly and instantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

According to the company, 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). Moreover, DME combustion does not produce sulfur oxide or fine particles, says Enerkem.

The company intends to further develop and optimize the product while evaluating its potential commercial applications.

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