A Swedish company is using black liquor, a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry, to produce an alternative fuel called BioDME.
Chemrec touts the fuel, a form of dimethyl ether (DME), as a renewable and cleaner alternative to diesel. DME is synthesized from methanol, whether produced from coal, natural gas or biomass such as harvested forestry wastes.
Chemrec is currently building “Fuels-from-the-Forest” BioDME production plants in Sweden, with a demonstration-scale facility scheduled to begin production later this year. The firm is also looking to open plants in the U.S.
Speaking at the 2009 World Methanol Conference in Miami in December, Chemrec CEO Richard LeBlanc said a forestry waste BioDME biorefinery integrated with a pulp mill in Michigan or Wisconsin, for instance, would generate enough clean-burning, low-CO2 DME in a year to replace the diesel fuel to power the municipal truck and bus fleets of the cities of Milwaukee or Chicago, as well as fleets such as delivery vehicles, for a year.
“We expect that DME as an attractive diesel fuel substitute will continue to be refined and proven, while DME should be available in quantity in the U.S. in only a few years as Chemrec biofuel plants come online,” LeBlanc said.
He noted that DME is more widely produced and accepted in Europe and Asia.
Truck manufacturer Volvo AB, a partner in the Chemrec demonstration-scale project, plans to test several of its production diesel trucks modified to operate on BioDME throughout Sweden.