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JOURNAL OF RENEWABLE AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY 2, 052701 2010

Potential of bio-DME as a transportation fuel for India


M. Himabindu and R. V. Ravikrishna
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India Received 13 April 2010; accepted 14 August 2010; published online 21 September 2010

This article discusses the potential of bio-dimethyl ether DME as a promising fuel for India in the transportation sector where a majority of imported petroleum in the form of diesel is used. Specically, the suitability of DME in terms of its properties vis--vis those of diesel, ability to liquefy DME at low pressures similar to liqueed petroleum gas LPG , and ease of production from renewable feedstock biomass , and most importantly, very low emissions including near-zero soot levels are some of the features that make it an attractive option. A detailed review presents the state-of-the-art on various aspects such as estimates of potential bio-DME production, methods of synthesis of bio-DME, important physicochemical properties, fuelinjection system-related concerns both conventional and common-rail system , fuel spray characteristics which have a direct bearing on the engine performance, and nally, exhaust emissions. Future research directions covering all aspects from production to utilization are summarized 2010 American Institute of Physics. doi:10.1063/1.3489529

I. INTRODUCTION

The search for clean, green, and viable energy alternatives has assumed a sense of urgency with the rise in Indias vehicle population and petroleum consumption with every passing day. The total on-road vehicle population in India was around 70 million in 2007 and estimated to increase by seven times by 2016.1 In addition, Indias total petroleum consumption grew 6.8% to 128.94 million tons in 20072008 scal and it is expected to grow by 6% per year. Annual diesel consumption in India is approximately 52 million tons, i.e., 40% of the total petro products consumption. Since India imports three-quarters of its crude oil needs, this places a severe burden on the economy especially since its growing economy has led to a steady increase in the demand for oil. Renewable fuels for transportation improve energy security by displacing petroleum and lead toward a sustainable energy future. Research on various renewable fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel has been going on for a considerable time; however, the current focus is to explore the next generation alternatives that include bio-dimethyl ether DME , syngas, and FischerTropsch diesel. Among these, bio-DME has good potential for becoming one of the alternatives because of the availability of feedstock biomass in India and the cost of production. DME is not a new product; it has been used as an aerosol propellant for over 60 years.2 In addition, it is practically odorless and colorless. DME is also relatively nontoxic and noncarcinogenic. Its characteristics are similar to other aerosols such as propane, butane, and chlorouorocarbons in terms of being able to be liqueed at modest pressures approximately 6 atm at ambient temperatures. The main reasons to consider bio-DME as a viable alternative fuel for diesel engines are the following. 1 Low emissions: The exhaust and noise emissions of an engine running on DME are much lower than a similar engine running on diesel fuel. Smoke is almost nonexistent and oxides of nitrogen NOx emissions can be reduced to very low levels. Smokeless combustion is achieved with DME fuel under all operating conditions because the oxygenate fuel high oxygen concentration of 35% by weight and the fast diffusion combustion suppress soot formation. The low NOx levels with DME are due to the low in-cylinder temperature fuel
2, 052701-1 2010 American Institute of Physics

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evaporates faster in addition to the shorter ignition delay in comparison with that of diesel operation. Renewability: Bio-DME can be produced from renewable sources such as biomass. From well-to-wheels analysis which is discussed in detail later on in this article, it is indicated that bio-DME has highest efciency and lowest CO2 emissions among renewable fuels. Storage and handling: DME is a gas that can easily be liqueed at low pressures and hence can be stored and carried onboard as a liquid. DME is easy to handle as it is nontoxic, noncarcinogenic, biodegradable, and harmless to the atmosphere. DME has similar physical properties as liqueed petroleum gas LPG and all the safety issues related to LPG apply to DME also. However, while carrying onboard as liquid DME is likely to have greater explosion hazard if it is spilled due to the wide detonability limits and also due to its low vapor density as the dispersion of DME is faster than gasoline.

Sorenson3 provided an overview of the prospects of using DME as a fuel in diesel engines, whereas Arcoumanis et al.4 provided a detailed review concerning the use of DME in compression ignition engines specically focusing on the engine-related aspects such as fuel injection, spray, and combustion. The focus of this paper is specically on bio-DME, and is a country-specic analysis providing estimates of bio-DME production and the potential to substitute diesel. Also, a more comprehensive discussion on the bio-DME production is presented, thus providing an overall discussion from production estimates, production pathways, and utilization in engines. Furthermore, a brief mention of future research directions is also presented. The following sections review various aspects of bio-DME such as potential of production, methods of production, ability to substitute diesel, performance of DME in engines with specic reference to combustion, and spray characteristics and emissions.
II. POTENTIAL OF BIO-DME PRODUCTION

India has a huge biomass potential owing to the large quantities of agricultural forestry and agro-industrial residue produced. Table I shows the state-wise annual biomass production data and also the potential of DME production in India. Hence, it is important to consider renewable fuels that can be produced from the large quantities of biomass available. The bio-DME production estimate from biomass has been calculated based on available estimates.5 For 1 ton of dry wood or other solid biomass , the estimated yield of DME production is 0.37 ton, i.e., on energy basis 10 212 MJ of energy can be produced.6 For the same 1 ton of biomass, the energy produced from biogas is 9900 MJ, whereas for the producer gas it is 11 500 MJ.7,8 Thus, in terms of energy, efciency, and emissions, DME proves to be a potential alternative for automotive applications. From Table I, it is observed that the net production of biomass residues in India could be around 125.046 106 tons.5 Based on the above information, the estimated yield of bio-DME is around 46.26 106 tons. As mentioned earlier, Indias annual diesel consumption is around 52 106 tons. Thus, these gures indicate that bio-DME can be a potential substitute for diesel fuel in India. Figure 1 shows the well-to-wheels analysis for heavy-duty vehicles.9 The well-to-wheels energy efciency is estimated as the product of the energy efciency of each individual utilization step well-to-tank and tank-to-wheels . The energy efciencies include fuel recovery, fuel distribution, fuel manufacturing/processing, and also vehicle technology. Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure to compare the emissions from various green house gases based upon their global warming potential. The well-to-wheels CO2 emission is dened as the total CO2 emissions in gm during the production, distribution of fuel, and utilization in vehicles delivering 1 kW h of work. The production and distribution of natural gas involve large amount of fossil fuel-based energy usage generating CO2 in large quantities since it involves extraction from deep within the ocean/ land and pumping the gas over large distances. On the other hand, bio-DME is generated typically in a gasication process generating relatively smaller quantities of CO2, and the transport of DME is relatively far simpler since it is carried as a liquid at very low pressures. Although DME is a volatile organic compound, it is nontoxic, noncarcinogenic, and thus environmentally benign, whereas NG which mainly contains CH4 is environmentally hazardous. The global warming

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TABLE I. State-wise annual biomass and potential bio-DME production data. Potential of bio-DME production MMTPA 1.460 76 0.503 94 1.585 82 0.705 96 0.066 97 3.090 61 3.739 22 0.365 56 0.088 06 0.210 16 2.658 08 2.785 73 3.435 08 4.809 26 0.011 84 0.002 96 0.009 99 0.430 31 9.081 28 2.7454 2.738 37 4.3919 0.019 24 1.098 16 46.05

S. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

State Andhra Pradesh Assam Bihar Chhattisgarh Gao Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Manipur Meghalaya Nagaland Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh Uttaranchal West Bengal Grand total

Area kHa 6021.5 2586.6 5833.1 3815.5 156.3 6519.0 4890.2 710.3 368.7 1299.8 7356.0 2058.4 9937.0 15 542.3 72.6 0.80 27.1 2436.6 6776.6 10 748.5 2561.5 12 672.5 66.4 5575.6 107 763.0

Crop production MMTPA 28.345 5.945 13.818 6.143 0.555 20.636 13.520 1.329 0.649 1.509 38.754 9.773 14.167 51.665 0.159 0.014 0.088 3.633 31.731 12.763 24.688 46.842 0.136 21.063 347.926

Biomass generation MMTPA 21.569 06.625 20.442 10.124 0.929 25.471 26.581 2.668 1.199 2.191 26.949 13.073 28.0349 39.349 0.319 0.042 0.149 5.350 49.988 25.234 17.459 50.622 0.160 23.333 398.175

Biomass surplus MMTPA 3.948 1.362 4.286 1.908 0.181 8.353 10.106 0.988 0.238 0.568 7.184 7.529 9.284 12.998 0.032 0.008 0.027 1.163 24.544 7.420 7.401 11.870 0.052 2.968 125.046

FIG. 1. Well-to-wheels analysis for heavy-duty vehicles Ref. 9 .

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potential on the basis of CO2 being 1.0 for DME is 0.3 100 yr time horizon , whereas for CH4 it is 21 100 yr time horizon . This means that emissions of 1 MMT of methane are equivalent to emissions of 21 MMT of CO2. It also shows that bio-DME produced from wood, black liquor has almost negligible CO2 emissions and high WTW efciency when compared with that produced from natural gas. Bio-DME can be produced relatively inexpensive from biomass and other such products. Another rich source for bio-DME is black liquorthe waste product of paper production. India has the 15th largest paper industry in the world.10 Hence, bio-DME has bright prospects and has potential to become a major fuel that is suitable for Indias rising fuel demands.
III. DME SYNTHESIS

DME produced from biomass, agri-residues, forest industry by-product, etc. shows a promise as one of the alternatives for diesel in the transportation sector. For India, agriculture-based biomass is an interesting option on foreseeable terms considering the availability of the same. The viability of commercial production of DME in large quantities has been demonstrated especially in countries such as Japan and China. Biomass can be converted into solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels through thermochemical and biological routes. Production of bio-DME in India can be a step toward solving the energy-environment dilemma by utilizing the biomass resources.
A. Biomass gasication

Biomass gasication is a well established and a promising route for converting biomass into liquid fuels. Gasication system basically consists of a gasier unit, purication system, and energy converters. The design of gasier depends upon the type of fuel used and whether gasier is portable or stationary. Gasication typically involves substoichiometric oxidation leading to the loss of volatiles from biomass. It is an exothermic process which generates gaseous products such as CO, H2, and CO2. Additionally, a second reduction reaction may also be incorporated to generate CO and CH4 from CO2.1115 The advantage of gasication technology is decentralized energy conversion system which operates economically even for small scale. Thus, gasication process produces syngasa mixture of CO and H2 which can be later converted into fuel chemicals in a variety of catalytic processes to produce methanol, synthetic diesel, and DME. An excellent review of the biomass gasication process is provided by Leung et al.16
1. Indirect DME synthesis process

The conventional DME production a highly exothermic reaction is an indirect two-step process where syngas a mixture of CO, H2, and N2 is rst converted to methanol followed by methanol dehydration to DME. Past research has shown that high quality DME is obtained with the use of ZSM-5 molecular sieve catalyst that contains gamma Al2O3 / SiO2. However, the cost of producing DME from methanol is inuenced by the price and availability of methanol, as it is an expensive chemical feedstock. Also, in the two-step reaction, the equilibrium conversion of DME is lower. DME production from organic biomass waste such as straw and salix was carried out by methanol dehydration by Ahlgren et al.17 Detailed study on energy balance such as production of raw material, fuel production, fuel storage and distribution, land use, and fuel utilization was done. The yield of DME was observed to be 0.49 MJ/MJ LHV 50% moisture content of biomass. Another similar study of DME production from biomass residues of sugarcane such as bagasse and cane trash was investigated by Choh.6 It involves the feasibility study of biodigestion which consists of biological degradation of complex organic substances in the absences of free oxygen. The methane present in the biogas that produced from this process is transformed into synthesis gas which later undergoes catalytic synthesis of the H2 and CO.
2. Direct DME synthesis process

In contrast, producing DME directly from syngas has many economic and technical advantages over methanol dehydration. Figure 2 shows the schematic diagram of both direct and indirect

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Indirect Process Syngas (CO + H2) (1) Methanol (CH3OH) (2) DME + H2O (CH3OCH3 + H2O)

Direct Process Syngas (CO + H2) Methanol (CH3OH) DME + CO2 (CH3OCH3 + CO2)

FIG. 2. Synthesis process for methanol and DME.

processes. Table II gives details of the synthesis reactions. It has been reported that DME can be prepared in a one-step process using syngas as a starting material, which is more thermodynamically and economically favorable than the two-step process of syngas to methanol and further to DME.18,19 Lv et al.20 explored the technology of syngas production from direct biomass gasication. The characteristics of biomass gasication gas such as ratio of H2 and CO molar percentages H2 / CO and tar yield were studied. Dolomite and nickel-based catalyst were adopted in a uidized bed gasier and in a downstream xed-bed gasier. The results show that a high ratio of H2 / CO ranging from 1.87 to 4.45 varying the reactor temperature can be obtained from biomass catalytic gasication which is favorable for methanol or DME synthesis. Available processes for the production of syngas for gas to liquid plants are based on steam reforming, partial oxidation, or a combination of both. The most attractive and economical technology is considered to be oxygen-blown autothermal reforming. New processes are being commercialized to produce DME in a single step via autothermal reactors if produced from natural gas 2123 and slurry phase reactors in case of biosyngas to meet the DME mass production.24 The slurry phase reactors involve direct synthesis of DME from syngas with a dual/bicatalyst in a slurry phase reactor. This gives high conversion and high selectivity of DME, which means that methanol and DME syntheses occur in one reactor and overall the process is very efcient. By-products of CO2, unreacted syngas, and small amounts of methanol obtained from the reactor are chilled and separated as liquid from unreacted gas. Recently, organizations such as JFE formally NKK Corporation and Haldor Topsoe have been making progress in this technology of direct DME synthesis from gas using the slurry phase reactors.24 A 5 ton/day plant has been in operation from 1999 at a coal-mining site in Hokkaido.25 With the successful operation of this plant, a large-scale bench plant of 100 tons/day has been developed to commercialize DME production. The two production methods discussed above have their own advantages and disadvantages. However, synthesis of DME from biomass syngas through a single-step process is more preferred than methanol synthesis. The advantages of this method include higher syngas conversion, higher methanol reactor productivity, longer catalyst life, good heat control, and lesser dual deactivation and crystal growth. Some of the areas related to DME production that need to be addressed in the future are new hybrid catalyst technology, simulation of the reactor design, and process optimization to further lower the operating costs and maximize efciency.

TABLE II. DME synthesis reaction. Methanol synthesis Methanol dehydration Water-gas shift Net reaction CO+ 2H2 CH3OH, H rxn= 90.3 kJ/ mol 2CH3OH CH3OCH3 + H2O, H rxn= 23.4 kJ/ mol H2O + CO H2 + CO2, H rxn= 40.9 kJ/ mol 3H2 + 3CO CH3OCH3 + CO2, H rxn= 258.6 kJ/ mol

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TABLE III. Physical and chemical properties of dimethyl ether Refs. 26 and 27 . CNG methane 50 650 130 17.2 162 515 75 25 0

Properties Density g/ml Lower caloric value MJ/kg Cetane number Auto ignition temperature C Octane number Stoichiometric A/F ratio Boiling point C Explosion limits percent of gas in air wt % of carbon wt % of hydrogen wt % of oxygen

DME 0.66 27.6 55 235 9 25 3.418 52.2 13 34.8

Diesel 0.84 42.5 4055 250 14.6 180370 066.5 86 14 0

Methanol 0.79 19.5 5 450 111 6.5 65 5.526 37.5 12.5 50

Ethanol 0.81 25 8 420 108 9 78 3.515 52.2 13 34.8

IV. UTILIZATION OF DME IN IC ENGINES

Research has shown that compression ignition, direct injection engines fueled with DME can achieve ultralow emission vehicle standards while maintaining the thermal efciency of a conventional diesel. DME has been promoted as an alternative fuel for diesel engines owing to its superior physical and chemical characteristics,26,27 as shown in Table III. The enhanced properties of DME include a very high cetane number 55 leading to shorter ignition delay and thus lower NOx levels, high oxygen content, and low boiling point 25 C . This translates into high exhaust gas recirculation EGR tolerance, signicantly lower noise levels, smokeless combustion, faster fuel/air mixing, and more efcient cold starting. Since DME is sulfur-free, the use of effective after treatment devices in general is more easily facilitated with DME and also nontoxic and noncarcinogenic. The disadvantages of DME are that it has a lower viscosity than that of diesel causing fuel injection system leakage. Lubricity is also low causing wearing of engine parts and lower caloric value.
A. Fuel injection system and spray characteristics

Studies to date have shown that the conventional pump-line-nozzle system can operate satisfactorily and economically with DME in small 0.5l / cyl , naturally aspirated direct injection DI diesel engines.28 Owing to its extremely low lubricity, using neat DME directly in conventional diesel engine leads to damaged injection system. Hence, Wang and Zhou29 studied the effect of two kinds of vegetable oils as additives castor oil and rapeseed oil to enhance the lubricity and found that the plunger surface of the fuel pump has no large wear scars after 200 h test. The plunger surface was smoother with rapeseed oil than castor oil. They further concluded that smoke emissions were negligible and NOx was comparable to diesel. The power output and efciency were almost maintained to diesel operation. Zhang et al.30 focused on the injection process of a diesel engine fuelled with DME. They modied the pump-line-nozzle fuel system to accommodate the neat DME by enlarging the plunger diameter from original size of 910 mm and nozzle orice area from 0.35 mm to 0.55 to achieve rated power. Similar studies31 on increase in plunger diameter and advanced injection timing show an increase in the injection duration due to the high volume of DME that has to be injected into the cylinder. Thus, DME requires 1.8 times the volume of diesel fuel to supply the same amount of energy due to its lower caloric value and low density.27,32,33 As DME can atomize and evaporate easily, the nozzle opening pressure was reduced from 18 to 15 MPa, which in turn reduces the drive power of injection pump and increases the engine efciency. However, further lowering the injection pressure will cause longer injection duration and decrease the brake thermal efciency. Large amount of energy is stored in compressed DME due to its higher compressibility than diesel

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fuel, thus exhibiting higher-pressure oscillations during the injection process, which in turn gives rise to high residual pressure.34 Due to higher feed pressure of DME in the fuel line, the start of nozzle opening is earlier for DME than that for diesel fuel. Other properties of injection process such as needle lift and line pressure are lower for DME when compared to diesel operation. The effect of injector conguration three-hole and four-hole injectors on the combustion and emission characteristics of an ethanol-fuelled engine using DME as ignition promoter was investigated by Cipolat and Bhana.35 It was found that with four-hole injector, the rate of combustion pressure rise was steeper than in the case of three-hole injector. DME releases energy in two stages and more ethanol is being injected during the second stage and thus producing a maximum combustion chamber pressure. Total hydrocarbons and NOx emissions were investigated using both three-hole and four-hole injectors and found that in both modes there is reduction in emissions; however, four-hole injector produced fewer emissions. In order to satisfy more and more stringent emission regulations and with advancement in technology and electronics, strategies such as common rail system and multiple injection have been proposed as appropriate fuel injection concepts for DME engines. Conventional design of the common rail direct injection system used for diesel operation is unsuitable for DME engines due to low lubricity of DME and the low injection pressure required around 300 bar. Higher injection pressures deteriorate fuel economy and increase the CO and HC emissions in heavy-duty engines operated with DME.36 Hence, Zhang et al.30 proposed a DME common rail fuel system consisting of solenoid valves, which directly manage the fuel ow from the high-pressure rail to the injection nozzles unlike in conventional diesel operation. Quian et al.37 designed a new fuel system called pump rail valve injector with a hydromechanical mechanism and electronic control unit for an indirect injection engine. The unique feature of this injection system is that the actual valve opening pressure VOP of the injector is proportional to the pressure in the middle pressure common rail MPCR . It was reported that good injection characteristics were achieved with MPCR pressure of 6 MPa with an orice diameter of 0.3 mm. Overall, the choice of the fuel system is based upon the application passenger cars or heavy-duty-large trucks and bus engines , and thus there is a need for the development of a dedicated DME fuel injection system. Various groups3843 have carried out experiments on DME spray characteristics. Photographic observations of DME injection sprays into quiescent nitrogen with a single-holed nozzle show spray shape and penetration similar to that of diesel fuel. Ofner et al.32 observed that DME injection spray with a single-holed nozzle is similar to diesel fuel in terms of shape and penetration between chamber pressures of 1525 bar. However, with chamber pressure of 40 and 55 bar, there is rapid spreading of the spray at the start of the injection itself. Figures 3 and 4 show the spray evolution of diesel and DME with time in both ambient as well as higher pressure conditions. Investigations by Lee et al.39 revealed that the DME spray disperses rapidly at the beginning of injection because of ash boiling phenomenon. This phenomenon occurs when the ambient pressure is sufciently lower than the saturated pressure of the injected fuel. Further, it was found that at higher injection pressures, the spray tip penetration is stronger due to increase in momentum and spray volume increase. Similar studies of spray development were demonstrated with a common rail system at pressures up to 55 MPa with lower ambient pressures of 0.1 and 3.0 MPa. The spray tip penetration of the DME spray is less than or almost the same as that of a diesel fuel spray but a wider spray angle is observed compared to diesel. This is due to the enhancement of fuel atomization by ash boiling and fast evaporation of DME.
B. Combustion and emission characteristics

Dimethyl ether combustion begins immediately after injection due to its unique physical characteristics such as low boiling point and low viscosity that assists in quick atomization leading to complete combustion. The maximum cylinder pressure and the rate of pressure rise of the DME-run engine are lower with values approximately half those found with diesel fuelled engine.44 Figure 5 shows the rate of pressure rise for DME and diesel engines. This also results in high thermal efciency and low combustion noise. Earlier experiments3234,45,46 on DME-fuelled engine reported that owing to the physical and

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J. Renewable Sustainable Energy 2, 052701 2010

FIG. 3. Spray development of diesel and DME at 25 MPa of injection pressure and atmospheric chamber pressure. Reprinted with permission from J. Yu et al., SAE Paper No. 2002-01-2898 2002 . 2002, SAE International.

chemical characteristics of DME, the low C/H ratio, the lack of CC bonds, and the high oxygen content, faster and complete combustion was achieved. Smoke, CO, and HC emissions reported were almost negligible when compared to diesel operation. Figures 6 and 7 show the general trend of smoke, HC, and CO emissions in a DME-fuelled compression ignition CI engine. Generally, the NOx levels are supposed to be lower in DME-fuelled engines because of the shorter ignition delay; however, Kajitani et al.28 reported that DME produced very high NOx

FIG. 4. Spray development of diesel and DME at 55 MPa of injection pressure and 3 MPa chamber pressure. Reprinted with permission from J. Yu et al., SAE Paper No. 2002-01-2898 2002 . 2002, SAE International.

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FIG. 5. Rate of pressure rise and heat release for the DME and diesel engines for a n = 1800 r / min, bmep= 1.0 MPa and b n = 1200 r / min, bmep= 1.0 MPa. Reprinted with permission from Z. H. Huang et al., Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., Part D J. Automob. Eng. 1999.

levels in contrast with low NOx emissions observed by others.32,33,47,48 Dimethyl ether produced very high NOx emissions when operated at the conventional injection timing as of diesel fuel. Tests were conducted by changing the injection timing from 17 before top dead center BTDC to 5 BTDC, which resulted in lower NOx emission. The typical tradeoff between NOx and smoke that occurs during retardation of injection timing in conventional diesel-fuelled engines is not applicable with DME-operated engines. Thus, delaying injection timing is preferred as it does not require any major modication to control the NOx to lower levels. Similarly, the EGR concentration also helps to reduce the NOx emissions in DME-fuelled engines. Ying45 tested the effect of both hot and cold EGR on NOx emissions in the DME engine. It was observed that NOx emission decreases in both modes; however, around 50% reduction in NOx level was reported with 20% cold EGR ratio, which is attributed to the large specic heats of CO2, H2O, etc. in the intake charge, which in turn reduces the combustion temperature.

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M. Himabindu and R. V. Ravikrishna

J. Renewable Sustainable Energy 2, 052701 2010

FIG. 6. Reduction of smoke emissions for a CA 498 engine. Reprinted with permission from W. Ying et al., Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., Part D J. Automob. Eng. 2005 . 2005.

Simple techniques such as injection timing retardation and EGR inuence NOx emissions in DME-fuelled engines. Figures 8 and 9 show the reduction in NOx emission with respect to the delayed injection timing and percentage of EGR ratio. However, with advancement in technology, various other ways such as premixed charge combustion ignition and NOx reduction storage catalyst can curtail NOx levels largely in DME engines.46,47 Considering the advantages attributed to the DME properties, Song et al.49 proposed a new controllable premixed combustion CPC system, where the rst stage of combustion in the premixed chamber occurs under very rich condition and the second stage of combustion in the main chamber occurs very fast under a lean condition, thus lowering the NOx emissions. The NOx levels of the DME CPC engine are less than one-tenth of that of the DI diesel engine. Crookes and Bob-Manuel50 tested the use of DME and rape seed methyl ester RME both as neat fuel and pilot fuel in a natural gas dual-fuelled

FIG. 7. Reduction of HC and CO emissions of DME.

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FIG. 8. Effect of delayed injection timing on the NOx emissions. Reprinted with permission from S. Kajitani et al., SAE Paper No. 9729738 1997 . 1997, SAE International.

engine. It was found from the investigation that RME is a suitable alternative fuel either as a pure fuel or a fuel for pilot injection for diesel. DME was observed suitable for dual fuel operation as the specic fuel consumption is higher with single fuel operation. Also, reduction of NOx and smoke emission levels is observed for both cases.
V. SCOPE FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

Some of the areas that need further research in order to achieve the goal of utilizing DME as a full-edged fuel for CI engine-powered vehicles are as follows.

FIG. 9. Effect of percentage of EGR ratio on the NOx emissions. Reprinted with permission from W. Ying et al., Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., Part D J. Automob. Eng. 2005 . 2005.

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3 4 5

First and foremost, DME production from biomass in a cost-effective manner is required. This will require research in chemical reaction engineering to nd a suitable cost-effective catalyst and further optimization of the processes. Some of the areas related to DME production that need to be addressed in the future are new hybrid catalyst technology, simulation work of reactor design, and process optimization in terms of operating cost and efciency. Fuel injector wear owing to poor lubricity of DME. Injector needs to be designed for lower pressures and with larger orice diameters. New materials or coatings may also be needed, especially on the fuel injection pump plunger surface and on the fuel injection valve needle surface. Current compression ignition engine combustion chamber/piston designs need to be optimized for DME spray. This will involve engine simulations and experiments. Design of fuel storage and delivery system including a fuel pump that has low internal leakage to accommodate the low viscosity of the DME. Some sealing materials are known to be incompatible with DME. More systematic and detailed studies on identifying DME-compatible materials are required.

VI. SUMMARY

Bio-DME is one of the promising alternatives for diesel fuel. For India in particular, the main advantage is that there is potential for large-scale economically viable production of DME from biomass. The estimates of bio-DME production indicate that a major portion of diesel used in transportation can be replaced with bio-DME. A review of DME production techniques indicates that the technology, both direct and indirect syntheses from syngas, is in a state of advanced development. The direct synthesis method seems to offer better advantages in terms of cost and efciency. Further, process optimization and catalyst development may be required to lower cost and maximize efciency. Engine performance tests indicate that DME has thermal efciencies equivalent to traditional diesel fuel. Other advantages of using DME as a diesel replacement include the reduced NOx emissions, near-zero smoke, and less engine noise. However, there are issues with respect to the fuel injector system. From the literature reviewed, it seems that reducing the fuel injection pressure signicantly while increasing the plunger diameter and orice diameter is one strategy to overcome these problems. Also, several novel fuel injector systems utilizing solenoid and hydromechanical valves have also been proposed. Overall, bio-DME has been shown to be a feasible alternative for meeting the transportation needs for the growing economy in India.
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