Like Parent Volvo, Mack to Offer Dimethyl Ether Option for 2015
As Fuel Development Partner Starts Up Its First Plant in California
Mack Trucks is to begin production of dimethyl ether-powered Pinnacle Axle Back models with the 13-liter MP8 engine in 2015. Echoing its corporate parent Volvo Trucks, Mack says that DME is a “non-toxic, clean-burning alternative fuel, offers many environmental and societal benefits, including that it can be made from multiple sustainable feedstocks.”
Volvo introduced its DME option in concert with fuel supplier Oberon Fuels in Sacramento last month (F&F, June 11).
DME engines emit no soot, Mack says, meaning no DPF – diesel particulate filter. When produced from biomass or biogas, DME can provide up to a 95% percent carbon dioxide reduction compared with diesel.
Carbon Dioxide in Biogas Is Good
“Furthermore, DME can be made from North America’s plentiful domestic natural gas supply, food waste, animal waste, grass clippings and other sustainable sources,” says the truckmaker, “offering the potential to help reduce dependency on foreign oil.”
Volvo and Oberon noted last month that carbon dioxide – which must be removed from most biogas to make engine- or pipeline-grade biomethane – is actually desirable when producing DME. “DME represents a less expensive and simple way to burn natural gas or biogas,” said Volvo alternative fuels manager Ed Saxman.
“The benefits of DME are numerous,” Mack sales and marketing president Kevin Flaherty said in his firm’s DME announcement. “It’s better for the environment because it burns clean, and it can be made from sources that are domestically available.”
The Pinnacle Axle Back with DME-fueled MP8 engine will “easily handle heavy workloads,” Mack says. It is “ideal” for highway van trailers, bulk hauling, flatbed and dump trailer jobs.
Mack notes that DME has the same performance and energy efficiency as diesel. It is compression-ignited, like diesel, and is handled and stored in tanks similar to those used for propane – it does not require cryogenic cooling or high tank pressures.
Oberon Is in Start-Up Now in Brawley, Calif.
Oberon Fuels is bringing its initial DME production unit online in south California’s Imperial Valley region.
The firm “has developed small-scale, skid-mounted production units that can cost-effectively convert a variety of feedstocks to DME,” Oberon president Rebecca Boudreaux says in the Mack DME announcement.
“We believe DME has tremendous potential as an effective way to use the country’s abundant natural gas reserves to power heavy-duty trucks,” Flaherty said. The fuel “is unique,” he said, “in that it is clean, easy to handle, safe to store and will be made domestically, benefitting everyone.”
“We’ll have on-spec DME probably within a week or so,” Oberon COO Elliot Hicks told F&F Tuesday.
“With these small-scale production units, regional fuel markets are created, offering the potential to bypass the infrastructure challenges of using an alternative fuel while also enabling the use of locally available feedstocks,” Boudreaux said.
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Source: Mack Trucks with Fleets & Fuels follow-up