Japanese Firm Begins Test of Dimethyl Ether-Fueled Vehicle

DME being studied as alternative fuel.

Published: 12-Mar-2002

Tokyo, Japan - NKK became the first company in Japan to obtain permission from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to conduct running tests on public roads of a DME (dimethyl ether) vehicle. The vehicle, an ordinary diesel truck modified by NKK, was formally licensed for street use by the local Land Transport Bureau on Feb 27th.

NKK is leading the development of efficient mass-production and application technology for DME, a new clean fuel seen as a potential alternative to diesel and LPG fuels. The company developed technology to use DME as diesel-engine fuel and then conducted the world's first test runs of a DME-fueled vehicle in 1998.

Unlike conventional fuels, DME does not have carbon molecule bonding, so it produces no black smoke, yet it offers the high cetane value required for use in diesel engines.

DME is a gas at room temperature, but becomes a liquid when compressed to about 6 atmospheres. Use of DME in existing diesel vehicles requires only slight modification, such as replacement of the fuel supply system.

To use DME in the NKK test vehicle, an ordinary, commercially available 2-ton diesel truck, the company: Made no modification to the diesel engine itself; Installed an LPG fuel tank,and; Installed an NKK-developed, compact DME fuel supply unit.

NKK will continue to develop applied DME technologies for automobiles, as well as for DME-fired gas turbine and diesel engine generator systems and DME fuel cells.

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