Oberon and Ford Collaborate to Produce First DME Powered Passenger Car

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MI member Oberon Fuels, along with Ford, Forschungsvereinigung Verbrennungskraftmaschinen e. V. (FVV), and other FVV member companies on a 3-year, €3.5 million project to research, analyze and test the potential of DME and oligomethyl ether (OME) fuel in passenger cars and heavy-duty truck engines, and ultimately build the world’s first production passenger car powered by DME for on-road testing.

FVV is a unique worldwide research network of 170 international member companies across the engine supply chain, including researchers, engine manufacturers, component suppliers, and fuel providers. FVV has become the leading forum for pre-competitive joint research projects, for the exchange of knowledge between industry and science, and for training junior researchers for work in the industry.

Methanol-based DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel that can be derived from renewable sources. Its high cetane number and quiet combustion, as well as its inexpensive propane-like fueling system, make it an excellent diesel alternative for both passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles. DME-powered engines are expected to benefit from almost soot-free combustion, higher thermal efficiency and excellent cold start properties.

“Ford is committed to helping develop the market for alternative fuels, and DME has exciting characteristics,” said Werner Willems, Ph.D. a technical specialist for powertrain combustion systems with Ford of Europe, and project leader for this initiative. “Not only does DME offer the efficiency and torque desired in a diesel engine, but it can be made from renewable waste streams and reduce the long-term cost of ownership, all of which are important to our customers.”

The project will investigate the use of DME and OME as diesel replacements in passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicle engines, respectively, and will result in the first OEM-produced DME passenger car in the world. Technical preparations and combustion engine development will span the first two years of the project with the third year focused on building demonstrator cars based on the Ford Mondeo.

Oberon Fuels will supply DME for the project from its small-scale pilot plant in Brawley, California, which has a nameplate capacity of 4,500 gallons (~17,000 liters) of DME per day.

“By bringing together numerous stakeholders up and down the supply chain, we will be able to accelerate the process of bringing a new, sustainable fuel to a wide range of vehicles,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., president of Oberon Fuels. “By converting waste streams into clean-burning DME fuel, we can address global emissions, but also create new economic opportunities through more distributed fuel production and consumption. FVV’s and Ford’s leadership in this project are recognized and appreciated by all.” More information can be found here.

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