Volvo May Have Quietly Changed History Unveiling its DME-Powered Trucks

by Jon LeSage

  • This could be a piv­otal moment in alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cle his­to­ry, up there with the Prius com­ing to Amer­i­ca in 2000, and the Leaf and Volt being launched in late 2010…
  • Vol­vo Trucks is , and here are a few things you should know about it:
  1. It has the per­for­mance qual­i­ties and ener­gy effi­cien­cy of diesel but can low­er CO2 emis­sions by 95%. Let me say that again – 95%! Nat­ur­al gas reduces green­house gas/C02 emis­sions 20% to 25% com­pared to diesel.
  2. It pro­duces no soot, which is a com­mon­ly ref­er­enced down­side of diesel (includ­ing clean diesel). Because it pro­duces no soot, no diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter is nec­es­sary.
  3. The fuel comes from a vari­ety of domes­tic, sus­tain­able sources such as bio­gas from food and ani­mal waste, waster­wa­ter treat­ment facil­i­ties, and land­fills.
  4. The fuel can also be tapped and con­vert­ed from North America’s vast sup­ply of nat­ur­al gas. This would address the dis­tri­b­u­tion, stor­age, and fuel­ing chal­lenges faced by nat­ur­al gas vehi­cles – fac­ing what NGVs face and also con­tribut­ing to solu­tions, along with ben­e­fit­ing from a domes­tic fuel source that doesn’t have to be import­ed from a hos­tile over­seas mar­ket.
  5. The fuel is stored in lighter, sim­pler fuel tanks and low­er psi sys­tems than what’s need­ed for LNG and CNG sys­tems. It’s sim­i­lar to propane-pow­ered vehi­cles in that regard.
  6. DMW has been on the mar­ket for years as an aerosol pro­pel­lant in cos­met­ics and oth­er house­hold prod­ucts. It’s a clean, non-tox­ic fuel.
  • It’s part of Volvo’s “Blue Pow­er” alter­na­tive fuel strat­e­gy, and has been through ongo­ing US cus­tomer field test­ing of trucks pow­ered by DME. It was demon­strat­ed to an audi­ence after being announced recent­ly in Sacra­men­to at the Cal­i­for­nia state capi­tol build­ing.
  • The DME tech­nol­o­gy will be avail­able in a Vol­vo D13 engine, the top-sell­ing heavy-duty engine in the world.
  • Vol­vo Trucks is still com­mit­ted to CNG and LNG offer­ings as well – its line­up already includes CNG-pow­ered Vol­vo VNM and VNL mod­el day­cabs. The com­pa­ny is also pro­duc­ing its own pro­pri­etary LNG engine in VNL day­cabs and sleep­ers next year.
  • Blue Pow­er was start­ed in 2007 in Brus­sels when Vol­vo show­cased sev­en com­mer­cial vehi­cles pow­ered by sev­en dif­fer­ent CO2-neu­tral fuels, one of which was DME.
  • Oberon Fuels has devel­oped small-scale pro­duc­tion units that can cost-effec­tive­ly con­vert bio­gas and nat­ur­al gas into DME. The first of Oberon’s inno­v­a­tive pro­duc­tion units will go online in June in California’s Impe­r­i­al Val­ley region.
  • Will DME fuel and tech­nol­o­gy makes its way to light-duty pas­sen­ger vehi­cles? Very good ques­tion. AB Vol­vo split between cars and heavy trucks in 1999 when Ford bought the car divi­sion. Chi­nese com­pa­ny Geely Auto­mo­bile bought Vol­vo Cars from Ford in 2010. Per­haps Vol­vo Trucks and Volvo/Geely could work togeth­er on it.


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