Volvo given £4.5m to develop fuel alternative

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Volvo has been given a £4.5m grant by the energy authorities in Sweden for the development of a third-generation di methyl ether (DME) engine for heavy vehicles.

DME is a fuel that becomes a liquid at relatively low pressure. It is commonly used as a propellant gas in spray cans and is produced through gasification of various renewable substances or fossil fuels. The synthetic gas that is formed is then catalysed to produce DME.

The project will deliver technology for a major field test with DME-powered trucks planned for the years 2009 and 2010. Volvo is also investing a large, but as yet unspecified, amount in the project. A small field test will be initiated in under a year’s time with trucks based on the second-generation DME technology, which was presented in 2005.

Volvo says its studies have shown that DME has potential to become a competitive alternative to today’s fossil fuels.

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