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
DTU’s latest development of modified Ignition Quality Tester has enabled performing ignition tests of liquefied gas sprays. A wide range of DME/LPG mixtures and DME/ammonia mixtures has been tested and showed that 20% DME in LPG is enough to obtain a Cetane Number close to 10, which is usually sufficient for proper ignition without use of pilot oil in 4-stroke medium speed generator engines used on ships. About 40% DME is required in ammonia. This experimental work is first of its kind and was presented at The Symposium on Ammonia Energy in September 2022 in Cardiff, UK. The symposium had had 100 presentations about the latest ammonia combustion research and the presentation by DTU was recommended for publication in Journal of Ammonia Energy.

CEPC and GF in China collected data on safety regulation as well as cost and logistics of the rather large DME production in China. A Post Doc in Naval Architecture at Harbin University started to investigate design concepts of DME tanks and supply systems for container ships. Collaboration with one of the largest gas tank producers in China is attempted.

Design concepts for converting an existing CTL plant to produce green DME (and Methanol) is investigated and collaboration with one of the largest CTL plants in China is attempted. Green H2 addition is considered and a Post Doc at North China Electric Power University is investigating concepts to compensate a fluctuating electricity production from sun and wind near the CTL plant.

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