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Volvo bio-DME fuel trials

Gothenburg, Sweden: Volvo Trucks is running field tests with vehicles powered by bio-DME, a fuel that can be produced from biomass both cost and energy efficiently. For the transport industry, this could reduce dependence on oil and thereby reduce the environmental impact.

Since last autumn, ten specially adapted Volvo trucks have been operating on Swedish roads. The field tests have now reached the halfway point and the results so far have both met – and exceeded – expectations, Volvo says.

As a fuel in a diesel engine, bio-DME produces the same level of efficiency and lower noise levels compared with a traditional engine

Lars Mårtensson, environmental director at Volvo Trucks says: “We have, for example, demonstrated both that the technology works in practice, when it comes to both the production of fuel and trucks in traffic, and that the infrastructure with filling stations in different parts of Sweden works effectively. The test results bode well for the future.

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The field tests, which are being conducted in collaboration with companies including Preem, the biggest oil company in Sweden and Chemrec, the Swedish company which is responsible for fuel production, has aroused interested worldwide – an unexpected bonus, Mårtensson says.

“We have shown that it’s possible to take an idea from the laboratory to full-scale operation and we have also successfully spread this knowledge all over the world. There is now a clear-cut interest from countries including China, Russia and the USA and they are markets with huge potential,” he says.

Bio-DME, dimethyl ether produced from biomass, is a liquid, so-called second-generation biofuel that can be made from wood or by-products and waste from agricultural production.

“According to the calculations, bio-DME could replace up to 50% of the diesel that is currently being consumed by commercial vehicles in Europe within the next 20 years. We have a chance to make a fantastic contribution to help the environment,” he says.