By Sherrie Wilson
Impressive cricket skills aren’t the only thing us Aussies have in common with India. Believe it or not, both nations also face pretty similar energy challenges. Neither country can meet current fuel demands with domestic production alone. And with energy resources dwindling and transport needs growing, it’s clear we need a solution to meet our future energy needs.
Now we’re cooking with gas. A new clean-burning synthetic fuel could help solve our future energy challenges. Image: Suvodeb Banerjee.
So we’ve teamed up with our Indian equivalent, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to help pave the way for the widespread introduction of a clean-burning synthetic fuel.
Enter dimethyl ether, stage left. Now that you’ve met, you can call him DME. Remember the name. This bad boy is about to clean up the acts of 33 million Indian kitchens and more than half a million Australian motorists.
DME is a fuel that can be produced from natural gas, coal, biomass, or directly from carbon dioxide. It generates significantly less pollution than conventional fuels when burnt, making it more environmentally friendly.
It has low toxicity and excellent combustion characteristics that allow it to burn efficiently. DME’s low solubility also means it won’t accumulate in groundwater and aquatic systems unlike other conventional fuels.
Forget LPG, it’s all about DME. Image: vistavision.
This project aims to reduce the size of DME processing plants and make them mobile enough to be taken to remote locations in the desert and offshore – where the majority of our current natural gas reserves exist. This will allow the conversion from gas-to-liquids to happen on-site, making the vast reserves of natural gas economically viable.
DME is in no way a solution to all of our energy problems, but it’s an excellent candidate for a transitional fuel in both countries.
In Australia, over half a million vehicles use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) – all of which could be powered using DME. In India, LPG is used for cooking in more than 33 million homes, and demand is increasing with imports rising rapidly. In both cases, DME can immediately be used as a blend with LPG without the need to change infrastructure.
While renewables are still being developed, DME has great potential to help Australia move from a high carbon society to a low one.
Read more in our media release.
Media: Sherrie Wilson, Sherrie.Wilson@csiro.au T: +61 8 6436 8809