Volvo to manufacture DME powered truck in North America

The interest in the US truck market for alternative fuels has prompted Volvo to introduce a DiMethyl Ether (DME) powered truck onto the US market. The new fuel, offering low emissions with a thermal efficiency comparable with that achieved by diesel power, was unveiled in California today.

DME can be made from natural gas, or any source of methanol, is non-toxic and is used as an aerosol propellant by the cosmetics industry. The new alternative fuel has been used in trials in Europe with Volvo as well as in Japan by Isuzu.

The combustion process produces virtually no particulate matter, doing away with the need to fit a diesel particulate filter on the new trucks. The storage tanks are also relatively light when compared to those required for LNG or CNG. The DME is stored at lower pressures, around 75 psi, and does not need cryogenic tanks.

“With the addition of DME-powered vehicles to our previously announced CNG and LNG offering, Volvo’s Blue Power line-up will offer the industry’s most comprehensive approach to the developing North American alternative fuel market,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales and Marketing.

California has led the way in the US by promoting the use of low emission trucks, including a project to reduce truck exhaust gas emissions from trucks working in and around the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The announcement of the new low emission trucks was made on the steps of the California State Capitol with California Governor Jerry Brown's Senior Energy Advisor, Cliff Rechtschaffen.

“It's exciting to have a global leader like Volvo Trucks partnering with California companies to develop innovative technology in the Golden State,” said Kish Rajan, director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). “The State of California continues to attract the most dynamic companies in the world and GO-Biz looks forward to helping Volvo and Oberon maximise the benefits of DME as a commercial transportation fuel.”

Volvo expect to commence limited production of the new trucks, powered by the DME version of the 13 litre D13 engine, in 2015. DME engines use compression ignition and the fuel can be packaged in tanks with a range comparable to that achievable with diesel power.

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