15.01.2024 change 15.01.2024

Scientists from Gdańsk University of Technology produce ecological fuel

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A new technology for the synthesis of dimethyl ether has been developed at the Gdańsk University of Technology. It is an attractive, ecological alternative to diesel fuel.

Dimethyl ether (DME), a colourless gas, is currently used in chemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. It is also used in gas stoves instead of propane-butane.

Scientists from the Gdańsk University of Technology explain that DME is a promising alternative to diesel oil, as well as LPG and LNG. Moreover, it can be produced from various raw materials: natural gas, coal and biomass.

The team from Gdańsk and colleagues from the Warsaw University of Technology have now described the new way of obtaining DME.

First, the so-called synthesis gas is produced from natural gas in a reaction with carbon dioxide. Then, this gas is converted into ether under high pressure, in an innovative system and in the presence of a catalyst developed by the team.

'Both the catalyst that we have modified and the reactor of our demonstrator have been submitted for patent protection. The method we have developed ensures greater economic and energy profitability in the ether production process. Thanks to research in the demonstrator, we have proven the final concept of the technology, which is now suitable for direct implementation,’ the scientists say. 

The fuel has many advantages: it does not emit toxic, smog-forming particulate matter, it is easy to liquefy, store and transport.

As a hydrocarbon-based fuel, it still emits carbon dioxide when combusted, and it provides less energy than traditional fuels, the researchers say.

Ether can already be used in diesel engines after inexpensive modification.

The project ' Development of DME production technology from small hydrocarbons sources' worth over PLN 10 million was led by Dr. Andrzej Rogala from the Department of Process Engineering and Chemical Technology.

It was carried out as part of the POIR 4.1.1 programme, competition no. 1 in the INGA programme, commissioned by PGNiG (now ORLEN group).

Now, as part of the agreement signed with ORLEN, the Gdańsk scientists will use the installation they have built to work on the production of methanol from waste carbon dioxide.

PAP - Science in Poland

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