Mack sets 2015 production date for DME-powered vehicles

Mack Trucks will begin production of dimethyl ether (DME)-fueled Pinnacle Axle Back models in 2015. DME, a non-toxic, clean-burning alternative fuel, offers many environmental and societal benefits, including that it can be made from multiple sustainable feedstocks.

One of the most significant advantages of the fuel is that it produces no soot, eliminating the need for a diesel particulate filter (DPF). DME can provide up to a 95% CO2 reduction compared with diesel when produced from biomass or biogas. Furthermore, DME can be made from North America’s plentiful domestic natural gas supply, food waste, animal waste, grass clippings, and other sustainable sources, offering the potential to help reduce dependency on foreign oil.

“The benefits of DME are numerous,” says Kevin Flaherty, president of Mack Trucks North American Sales & Marketing. “It’s better for the environment because it burns clean, and it can be made from sources that are domestically available. Mack trucks are built in the USA, and with DME, we’ll be powering our vehicles with a fuel made in America as well.”

The Pinnacle Axle Back model powered by DME will be equipped with a MACK MP8 engine, offering a 13-liter engine to easily handle heavy workloads. The Pinnacle Axle Back model is ideal for highway van trailer applications, bulk hauling, flatbed, and dump trailer jobs, according to Flaherty.

DME has the same performance and energy efficiency as diesel. The fuel is compression-ignited, is handled and stored similarly to propane, and does not need cryogenic temperatures or high tank pressures.

“Mack is a leader in natural gas technology development, and we believe DME has tremendous potential as an effective way to use the country’s abundant natural gas reserves to power heavy-duty trucks,” Flaherty says. “DME is unique in that it is clean, easy to handle, safe to store and will be made domestically, benefitting everyone.”

DME can be produced by small-scale production units that convert biogas and natural gas into the fuel. Oberon Fuels recently announced their first innovative production unit will go online this month in California’s Imperial Valley region.

“Oberon Fuels has developed small-scale, skid-mounted production units that can cost- effectively convert a variety of feedstocks to DME,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, PhD, president of Oberon Fuels. “With these small-scale production units, regional fuel markets are created, offering the potential to bypass the infrastructure challenges of using an alternative fuel while also enabling the use of locally available feedstocks.”

Mack’s DME-powered Pinnacle model will join a robust alternative fuel lineup that includes the natural gas-powered TerraPro cabover and low entry models and the natural gas-powered Mack Pinnacle, which made its debut during the 2013 Mid-America Trucking Show. Mack also plans to launch a natural gas-powered MACK Granite.

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