Testing standards group ASTM International has issued a standard specification for the diesel alternative in truck engines, dimethyl ether.

DME engine is based on Volvo D13 diesel. This prototype has common-rail fuel injection, which production engine might or might not use. (Photos by Tom Berg)

DME engine is based on Volvo D13 diesel. This prototype has common-rail fuel injection, which production engine might or might not use. (Photos by Tom Berg)

The specification, ASTM D7901, covers DME for use as a fuel in engines specifically designed or modified for DME, and for blending with liquefied petroleum gas.

Oberon Fuels, which began production of DME in the U.S. last year, initiated and led an ASTM task force focused on developing a specification for DME as a fuel. In addition to Oberon Fuels, the ASTM DME task force involved representatives from a number of international companies and organizations including Volvo, BP, Delphi, Marathon Petroleum, Petrobras, the National Propane Gas Association, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“Approval of an ASTM specification for DME marks an important milestone for DME’s introduction as a fuel, providing DME producers, engine manufacturers, infrastructure developers and others involved in the introduction of DME as a fuel with an important benchmark on which to base their work,” said the International DME Association.

Last year both Mack and Volvo Trucks announced plans to begin producing DME powered trucks for sale in the U.S. 

DME mirrors the performance qualities and energy efficiency of diesel, and burns clean without producing any soot, according to Volvo. It can be made from a variety of sustainable domestic sources, as well as from North America’s supply of natural gas.

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