Clean Shipping on Green Fuel

Project summary

This pilot project will be a big move towards the use of Dimethyl ether (DME) as a competitive and clean fuel alternative for the marine sector. Upcoming regulation of SOx, NOx, CO2 and the focus on soot emissions from the marine fleet is a challenge with current marine fuels. Engine technology for alternative fuels such as natural gas, propane, ethane and methane is under development. These fuels all have drawbacks compared to DME, especially regarding clean combustion and efficiency potential.

Some of the project outcomes will be:

  • Guidelines for design of an efficient, low emission DME engine.
  • Guidelines to benefit from the additional Waste Heat Recovery potential of DME.
  • Optimization of DME production by combining conventional and renewable sources.
  • Investigation of marine application of the estimated 10 million tons per year currently unused Chinese DME production capacity, including cost and
    logistics for marine supply.
  • To develop a Danish-Chinese sustainable energy collaboration to strengthen the achievement of both countries sustainable development goals.
  • To strengthen the technological leadership of the Danish and Chinese Maritime Sector.


Midterm report
A high-pressure common-rail injections system for DME has been designed, built and initial injection tests in a cold chamber has started. This injection system enable use of mixtures of DME with LPG and ammonia. The hot chamber is operational and ready for combustion test with the new DME injections system, as soon it has passed sufficient tests in the cold chamber.

An ignition quality tester supposed for diesel, has been modified to enable ignition tests of heavy fuel oil as well as liquefied gasses like DME, LPG, ammonia and mixtures thereof. Successful tests have been performed on heavy fuel oil to serve as benchmark for ignitability requirements by marine engines. Tests are currently performed with injection of DME.

Model development for predicting piston ring stress will be better integrated in the project now as Harbin Engineering University (HEU) is becoming a formal partner in the project. The initial model development was made by a PhD student from HEU visiting DTU. The model is needed to exploit the benefits of DME best possible in a marine engine.

The waste heat recovery system at DTU has been tested on the test engine for many hours to map out system performance. The test setup is soon fit for replacing the turbine expander with a screw expander from Danfoss Tianjin, as one of the upcoming steps.

A thorough investigation on conversion of Chinese coal based DME plants for bamboo biomass have been made. A journal paper is currently in the writing process.

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