bioDME Production and Commercial Plant
How is bio dimethyl ether
Bio DME is produced in two steps. The first step is methanol production from
various substrates, such as biomass, and the second step is conversion of methanol to bio DME. In the first step,
methanol is formed through the hydrogenation of both CO and CO2. Once the methanol has been formed, it is
dehydrated to form DME and H2O. Multiple catalysts are involved throughout the entire process which assist in the
conversion of materials. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve these processes and one common
target is the manipulation of catalysts. By either using different catalysts or modifying original ones, the yield
and selectivity of the process can be improved. One research group has modified a catalyst to improve selectivity
by adding Ga or Zr promoters to the catalyst. This modification roughly doubled the selectivity and
Has anyone produced bioDME
A proposal has been validated by Mitsubishi for the construction of a BioDME
plant in Iceland in 2014. It will produce bioDME using exhaust from the Elkem Iceland ferrosilicon plant and
mixing it with hydrogen derived from water via electrolysis. The company plans to replace the oil dependant
transportation ships with DME-fueled ships. Not only would this result in reduced emissions, it would alleviate
the issue of oil spills as DME is non-toxic and would not present a hazard if spilled.
With the intent to revolutionize domestic gas needs, Pertamina plans to
build a DME plant in Jakarta, Indonesia. Following a pilot domestic testing program, the company will begin
construction on a two plant system. The first plant will produce methanol from coal. The methanol will then be
further converted to DME in the second plant. This system is expected to produce over 1.7 million tons of DME
per year. DME by Pertamina will not be green as it will have twice the green house gas contribution opposite
petrodiesel and five times or greater green house gas opposite biomass sourced plant.
During the past decade, DME Development Co., Ltd. has investigated the
potential production of DME in a Japan based plant. Upon reaching their
objective production rate, the company has announced future production plans pending efficiency
investigations. Currently, efficiency has been successful, in respects to environmental effects, power
consumption, and equipment resilience. Further success will
result in a full-time DME production plant.
Volvo has been especially aggressive in the bioDME production research as
they will benefit greatly from its use. They are funding multiple
projects involving its production as well as actively designing engines more efficient for DME
use. Because bioDME burns cleanly, the need for exhaust processing equipment on vehicles has
been alleviated. This translates to lower vehicle production costs, lower vehicle weight, and ultimately,
greater transportation efficiency. Other contributing
companies include DHL and J-Trans transportation services.
and paper plant in Piteå, Sweden produces bioDME commercially since mid 2010 from waste black liquour, a byproduct
of pulping process.