New Liquid Fuel to Debut by 2010

Derived mainly from natural gas, dimethylether or DME could pass for water and among its advantages is it releases little greenhouse gas and no sulfur oxides.

Published: 06-Jun-2005

KUSHIRO, Japan: In the often snow-covered landscape of northern Japan, French oil giant Total is working with a Japanese consortium with a goal of mass producing by 2010 a new eco-friendly fuel derived from natural gas.

At Kushiro on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, a factory is serving as a testbed for the production of the "clean" gas dimethylether, or DME.

When it is at normal temperature and pressure, DME could pass for water, but vaporizes quickly. Spread on the ground, it evaporates within seconds. But when it is set alight, the flame is blue and it becomes a gas -- one which emits no sulphur oxides.

Among the advantages -- it is produced through renewable resources or fossil fuels, it releases little greenhouse gas and is easily transportable as a liquid. Questions, however, remain about its profitability.

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