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Volvo To Commercialize DME Trucks For North America

Posted on June 6, 2013

Volvo Trucks announced that it plans to commercialize dimethyl ether (DME)-powered heavy-duty commercial vehicles in North America. As the latest step in its Blue Power alternative fuel strategy, Volvo said it will begin limited production in 2015 of DME-powered vehicles.

 “With the addition of DME-powered vehicles to our previously announced CNG and LNG offering, Volvo’s Blue Power line-up will offer the industry’s most comprehensive approach to the developing North American alternative fuel market,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales and Marketing.

Volvo’s DME technology will be available in a Volvo D13 engine and the company’s I-Shift automated manual transmission will be standard on DME-powered trucks.  DME-powered vehicles will join a line-up that already includes CNG-powered Volvo VNM and VNL model daycabs.  The company will also introduce its own proprietary LNG engine in VNL daycabs and sleepers next year.

Volvo said DME, which can be made from a variety of sustainable domestic sources including biomass and natural gas, offers several advantages as a heavy-truck fuel. Its high cetane number delivers performance and efficiency comparable to diesel and it packages densely enough on a truck to support long range transports. It works in compression ignition engines and can be handled and stored like propane, with tank pressures of only 75 psi.

As it DME produces no soot, Volvo said no diesel particulate filter (DPF) is necessary.  In addition to the weight savings from the removal of the DPF, DME tanks are considerably lighter than comparable CNG or LNG tanks and considerably less complex, the company said.

Volvo said it will partner with Safeway Inc., one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, and Oberon Fuels to test heavy-duty commercial vehicles powered by DME produced from biomass. Two DME-powered Volvo VNL models equipped with a Volvo D13 engine will run in the San Joaquin Valley region of California in Safeway’s commercial operations using Oberon-produced DME.