DME As An Alternative Fuel Produced From CO2-enhanced Gasification Of Biomass

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel are commonly used fuels, however renewable Dimethyl Ether (DME) has drawn attention in recent years as it could be used as an alternative fuel to LNG and diesel. DME may also prove to be more efficient than diesel since DME has a higher combustion quality due to its high cetane number, thus achieving a higher efficiency.

On a commercial level, DME is typically produced through a two-step process, first, a synthetic gas (syngas) is converted to methanol, it then goes through methanol hydration, which produces DME. However, single-step synthesis of DME may prove to be a better option economically as they have a low investment and production costs. Some single step synthesis technologies include JFE technology and a process that adopts the hydrogen (H2) /carbon monoxide (CO) ratio of 1/1.


Carbon dioxide is a detrimental greenhouse gas (GHG); however, it is possible to mitigate the emissions where it can be converted into valuable chemicals or fuels. The use of COas a gasifying agent in biomass gasification has gained interest over the past few decades. One advantage to using COis that by adjusting its levels the H2/CO ratio will also change which therefore allows for the water gas shift reaction to being avoided. Another benefit to the process is the avoidance of using an oxygen separation unit, this helps to reduce energy consumption. A drawback, however, is the endothermic nature of the gasification reaction, meaning a constant heat source is needed.

This work focuses on the simulation of conventional DME synthesis system as well as DME production based on CO2-enhanced gasification of biomass. The conventional process uses oxygen and steam as the gasifying agent while the CO2-enhanced process utilizes COwith steam. As COis one of the main products of the single-step DME synthesis, in the CO2-enhanced biomass gasification based DME production system, a portion of the emitted COis recycled in the gasifier as the oxidizing agent that helps reduce the net CO2 emission of the system. This study also assesses the exergetic and environmental performance of bio-DME using COas a gasifying agent (CO2-enhanced system). Thus, the respective energy, exergetic and environmental analyses of the two processes were compared. An effort was also made to learn more about process unit inefficiencies.

The novel CO2-enhanced process produced 0.59 kg of DME per kg of gumwood feedstock which was 28% higher than the conventional system. The results revealed that the plant energy efficiency and plant exergetic efficiency were higher for a CO2-enhanced system than for a conventional system. In both systems, the largest exergetic loss occurred in the gasification unit; however, the enhanced system had a reduced loss.

The life cycle analysis (LCA) of the investigated systems showed that using COas a gasifying agent results in less environmental impact as compared to conventional systems. This subsequently made the enhanced system a more promising option for DME synthesis. These findings could assist in the development and commercialization of CO2-enhanced DME production.


These novel findings are described in the article entitled Bio-DME production based on conventional and CO2 -enhanced gasification of biomass: A comparative study on exergy and environmental impacts, recently published in Biomass and Bioenergy. This work was conducted by Ashak Mahmud Parvez, Tao Wu, Sannia Mareta from University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Nick Miles from University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK, Sheng Li from Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China and Iqbal M Mujtaba from University of Bradford, Bradford, UK



Do Extreme Wet And Dry Monsoon Spells Have Implications On The Wind Energy Prospects In India?

Renewable energy is transforming globally and at an unparalleled scale. India, being the fifth largest producer of wind energy in […]

Don’t Worry, Be Sad! On The Cognitive Benefits Of Negative Mood

Published by Joseph P. Forgas School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia These findings are […]

Who Invented Homework?

Roberto Nevilis invented homework in the year 1095 in Venice after being disappointed in his students. Roberto Nevilis began to give […]

Multiple Strategies To Meet The Energy Costs Of Human Lactation – But Not Increased Energy Efficiency

For all animals, reproduction entails an investment of time and energy. Among humans, lactation (i.e., breastfeeding) is, perhaps surprisingly, the […]

Crowds Of Living Organisms Behave Like Groups Of Quantum Particles

Electrons whizzing around an atom and a group of people at a concert hardly seem to have much in common. […]

Daytime And Nighttime Warming And How They Affect Our Environment

Increased co2 in the atmosphere following the industrial revolution has led to global warming.  While average global temperatures have been […]

NASA’s 60th Anniversary: The Greatest NASA Accomplishments

July 30, 2018, marked NASA’s 60th anniversary when Congress passed the Nautical Aeronautics and Space Act on July 16. On […]

Science Trends is a popular source of science news and education around the world. We cover everything from solar power cell technology to climate change to cancer research. We help hundreds of thousands of people every month learn about the world we live in and the latest scientific breakthroughs. Want to know more?