Friday, December 18, 2009

Canadian company launches bio-DME project in British Columbia, Canada

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: GV Energy of Calgary, Alberta has launched its project to use the vast forests of British Columbia to produce DME. A November 30 media release announced the signing of a MOU with the City of Terrace, British Columbia to acquire land for a bio-refinery plant, and a subsequent December 17 CBC News article generated interest in the project amongst renewable energy writers around the world. The fact that two companies are now planning to use different feedstocks to produce DME in the same jurisdiction in North America bodes well for adoption of this emerging alternative fuel on the continent.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

International DME Association Launches North American Affairs Group

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: At the 2009 World Methanol Conference, which is now taking place (Dec 8-9) in Miami, Florida, key players on the North American and world DME landscape met and successfully formed a North American Affairs Group, a subgroup of the International DME Association (IDA) .

According to the IDA press release on December 8th, the North American Affairs Group (NAAC) was created “To actively promote the awareness and use of dimethyl ether (DME) as an ultra-clean, renewable, low-carbon diesel substitute throughout North America.”

Members of the IDA’s NAAC include companies leading DME’s development worldwide: energy and fuel producers Total and Methanex; engine technology companies Caterpillar, Volvo/Mack,
and Alternative Fuel Technology; process suppliers Chemrec, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe; and renewable and biofuel producers Genifuel, LCE BioEnergy, Blue Fuel Energy, and Range Fuels; along with policy experts, The Methanol Institute, and academics from Penn State University and the University of Utah.

Appointed as the Group’s first-ever director was Richard J. LeBlanc, CEO, Chemrec AB, developer of pulp mill-integrated biorefineries that convert mill waste into BioDME. Said LeBlanc: ““The environmental benefits of DME are recognized around the world and we are pleased to be part of a trade organization that will help to build awareness and acceptance of DME in North America.” LeBlanc added that, “Many research universities and government laboratories already have confirmed the merits of DME, and now we hope to promote increased production, distribution and use of DME in North America as is happening in Asia.”

Commenting on the formation of the NAAC, IDA Chairman Jean-Alain Taupy of Total said that, “We have seen significant growth in DME’s use as a clean fuel in Asia over the past few years, and with major changes now being proposed to legislation and regulations in North America regarding transportation fuels and environmental issues, the International DME Association has formed a committee to facilitate the inclusion of DME in relevant legislation, projects, and programs now underway or proposed.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Capturing and transporting CO2 by pipeline is fundamental to Blue Fuel Energy’s plan to produce carbon-neutral DME/Blue Fuel in British Columbia. Recent announcements about Enhance Energy’s Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) project, and support for it by the governments of Alberta (C$495m) and Canada (C$63m, from the Clean Energy Fund) have certainly caught our attention, even though the CO2 is slated for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and not the production of alternative fuels.

As regards the link between the ACTL and the production of DME/Blue Fuel, the key points are that the technologies for large-scale carbon capture and the pipelining of CO2 are ready to roll—and that energy companies that clearly understand that a carbon-constrained future is fast approaching have an opportunity to utilize recycled CO2 to produce an emerging carbon-neutral fuel that will have a significant role in mitigating climate change, enhancing air quality, and providing energy security in countries around the world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Change to BC energy policy could pave way for Blue Fuel/DME exports

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: As reported in the Vancouver Sun and other media on Monday, November 2, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell has outlined a major change in BC’s energy policy which should have major and positive implications for all alternative energy suppliers in the province. According to their press release, the provincial government intends to create four green power task forces which “will consist of clean-energy experts, energy consultants, renowned climate experts, leading academics, First Nation representatives and environmentalists.” The stated goal of the task forces is to make “BC an international leader in green power development – both for the province and for export…”

These task forces fall under the overall responsibility of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force which was highlighted in the August BC Throne Speech and which was written about in this blog on August 28, 2009.The four task forces are to be organized in the following way:

• Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Procurement and Regulatory Reform. This task force will recommend improvements to BC Hydro's procurement and regulatory regimes to enhance clarity, certainty and competitiveness in promoting clean and cost-effective power generation; and identify possible improvements to future clean power calls and procurement processes.

• Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Carbon Pricing, Trading and Export Market Development. This task force will develop recommendations to advance British Columbia's interests in any future national or international cap and trade system, and to maximize the value of B.C.'s green-energy attributes in all power generated and distributed within and beyond B.C. borders. The task force will also develop recommendations on carbon-pricing policies and how to integrate these policies with any cap and trade system developed for B.C.

• Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Engagement and First Nations Partnerships. This task force will develop recommendations to ensure that first nations and communities see clear benefits from the development of clean and renewable electricity and have a clear opportunity for input in project development in their areas. It will work in partnership with first nations, not only to respect their constitutional right, but to open up new opportunities for job creation and reflect the best practices in environmental protection.

• Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Resource Development. This task force will identify impediments to and best practices for planning and permitting new clean, renewable-electricity generation to ensure that development happens in an environmentally sustainable way. The task force will also consider allocation of forest fibre to support energy development and invite input from solar, tidal, wave and other clean energy sectors to develop strategies to enhance their competitiveness.

Of particular note to companies interested in Blue Fuel/DME in general and export in particular are the task force on Carbon Pricing, Trading, and Export Market Development and the one on Resource Development. Let’s look at these two task forces separately.

The Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Carbon Pricing, Trading and Export Market Development shows promise in two areas. First, this task force states that it intends to develop recommendations relating to any future national or international cap and trade system. Clearly, the world is moving increasingly towards such a system (or a network of systems) and, as such, clean fuels have a central role to play not only on their own carbon-neutral merits but also because they offer value to companies and/or countries in need of carbon credits. It is by no means a stretch to imagine the day when clean DME/Blue Fuel producers are not only exporting their fuel but also their credits. The second way in which this task force may benefit clean energy producers in BC and their overseas off-takers is its focus on export development. Although it is unclear at this time how the task force intends to promote clean energy export, any energy-export-minded government organization is a welcome ally.

Now let’s look at The Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Resource Development. One of this task force’s stated goals is to develop strategies to enhance the competitiveness of clean energy sectors. This could mean a more efficient regulatory system which could make export easier either in terms of speed or cost. Moreover, this task force is also “considering the allocation of forest fibre to support energy development”, which immediately brings to mind the BioDME Project and their efforts to create carbon-neutral DME from biomass.

The long story is, of course, that these initiatives are in their very earliest stages in an ever-changing energy environment. The short story is that these initiatives are good news. Very good news indeed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Production of liquid fuels from waste CO2 ramping up

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On May 23, 2009, a pilot plant at the Mitsui Chemicals Osaka Works became the first site in the world to synthesize methanol from its carbon dioxide exhaust. DME, of course, is a derivative of methanol, making this development highly significant for proponents of carbon-neutral DME.

On October 17, 2009 there was more good news as the Icelandic-American firm Carbon Recycling International (CRI) started construction of its CO2 to methanol plant at the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant of HS Orka in Iceland. Dignitaries on hand for the ceremony included the president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and George Olah, Nobel Prize Laureate, Chemistry. Apart from being on the Advisory Board of CRI, Professor Olah is also co-author of “Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy”, a groundbreaking work that promotes the production of methanol and DME from renewable energy and waste carbon dioxide.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

South Korean interest in DME continues to grow

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Above and beyond the Asian DME Conference held in Seoul in September, two recent news items indicate that South Korean government and private interest in DME/Blue Fuel and its applications continues to grow.

The first story, which appeared in the Korean language Maeil Business Newspaper and was reported by Reuters in their daily press digest on Oct 21, said that the South Korean government is "working on commercialising dimethylether fuel, which is 20-30 percent cheaper than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), by December, according to the Knowledge Economy Ministry."

The second story, also reported by both Maeil and Reuters, this time on Oct 20, said that "South Korea's state-run Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) will invest about 400 billion won ($344.9 million) to build an energy plant in Saudi Arabia, the company said on Wednesday."

Reuters also reported that, "Earlier in the day, the Maeil Business Newspaper cited sources at the economy ministry and KOGAS as saying that the company would sign a preliminary deal with the Saudi Arabian government on Nov. 2 for the plant in Jubail, which would have an annual capacity of 300,000 tonnes of dimethylether (DME) from 2013."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Japan's DME Vehicle Promotion Committee wins DME Clean Fuel Achievement Award

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: During a special ceremony held during the 6th Asian DME Conference in Seoul, South Korea in September, 2009, Japan's DME Vehicle Promotion Committee (DMEVPC) was awarded the annual DME Clean Fuel Achievement Award.

Known as "The DME Award" and presented by the International DME Association, this award "recognizes companies, organizations, and individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the development and commercialization of dimethyl ether as a clean fuel source.

The award was presented by IDA Executive Director, Christopher Kidder and was accepted on behalf of the DME Vehicle Promotion Committee by DMEVPC Chair Yasuhiko Mikita and Secretary-General Ryoji Wakasa. As stated on their website, the 2009-2010 objectives for the DMEVPC are:
  • To comply with a new subsidy plan by Japan's MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) and put forward a 2009 proposal for new project allowing DME trucks to operate commercially.
  • Demonstration of DME Trucks in a commercial transport operation covering the full production chain for DME fuel, including manufacturing, distribution, and relevant infrastructure for DME vehicles in Japan's Niigata region.
  • To support newly built DME (4 tons) trucks built by Isuzu for commercial use in 2009 and to introduce DME trucks to the transportation industry and general users.
  • To continue commerical operations using existing DME trucks (like those manufactured by Nissan Diesel) after MLITT’s subsidies ceased in Dec. 2008.
  • To support technical improvement of DME filling speed/measurement and development of low-priced sealing materials suitable for DME piping/storage tanks.
  • The advancement of deregulation reform on DME infrastructure in line with that of LPG.

Last year's winner of the DME Clean Fuel Achievement Awardwas China's ENN Group .

Friday, October 16, 2009

Alternative Fuel Technology develops revolutionary DME fuel pump

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On September 24, 2009 Alternative Fuel Technology announced that they have designed and successfully demonstrated a revolutionary new DME fuel pump. To read their media release, please click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

DME rebounding as alternative to diesel for trucks and cars

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: An article in the newsletter Fleet Owner (written for executives and managers of commercial-trucking fleets) posted in the News section of the International Dimethyl Ether Association website speaks of a growing interest in the use of DME as a transportation fuel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Volvo Trucks takes next step in Bio-DME future

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Following on from our last blog post regarding developments by the gasification technology company, Chemrec, Volvo Trucks made a recent announcement regarding their involvement with Bio-DME. We find their press release most encouraging and include excerpts from it here.

“Volvo Trucks is now taking the next concrete step towards carbon dioxide-neutral road transport. Within the framework of a broad-based joint project, field tests are being conducted with 14 trucks running on Bio-DME – a fuel that combines a low environmental imprint with high energy efficiency.

In August 2007, Volvo Group unveiled seven demo trucks from Volvo Trucks each running on a different type of biofuel, one of which was DME (Di-Methyl-Ether). This initiative demonstrates Volvo has the technical solutions for running an efficient diesel engine on virtually all existing renewable fuels.

Today, in a joint project including the EU, the Swedish Energy Agency, fuel companies, and the transport industry, Volvo Trucks is investigating the potential for large-scale investment in DME produced from biomass, a fuel known as Bio-DME.

Volvo Trucks is participating in the project by contributing 14 Volvo FH trucks that will be tested by selected customers at four locations in different parts of Sweden between 2010 and 2012. The first field-test truck is being shown today in Piteå, where the production of Bio-DME will take place in Chemrec's plant. The Volvo Group, of which Volvo Trucks is a part, is a co-owner of Chemrec via its subsidiary, Volvo Technology Transfer.

From a facility beside the Smurfit Kappa Kraftliner pulp plant, the project will produce four tonnes of Bio-DME per day. The raw material used is black liquor, an energy-rich, highly viscous by-product of the pulp industry. Through gasification of the biomass in the black liquor, what emerges is a particularly clean and energy-efficient fuel. The plant is being inaugurated today by the King of Sweden, renowned for his keen interest in environmental issues.

"From the holistic viewpoint, Bio-DME is one of the most promising second-generation biofuels. Bio-DME provides both high energy efficiency and low emissions of greenhouse gases. We value these two properties particularly highly as we analyse various possible alternative fuels," says Lars Mårtensson, environmental affairs director at Volvo Trucks.

Compared with a conventional engine, Bio-DME as a fuel in diesel engines provides the same high efficiency rating but also a lower noise level. In comparison with diesel fuel, Bio-DME generates 95 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions. What's more, the combustion process produces very low emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides. All this makes Bio-DME an ideal fuel for diesel engines.

The field test gets under way in 2010 and encompasses the entire technological chain from biomass to fuel in trucks, in other words including distribution and filling stations. Fuel company Preem will build filling stations so the trucks can be used in regular regional and local operations. The other companies involved in the project are Chemrec, Delphi, ETC, Haldor Topsoe and Total who are contributing as partners.

Inspections and evaluations of the fuel, truck technology, customer perceptions and distribution system will provide answers as to whether Bio-DME may emerge as one of the fuels that can partially reduce dependence on diesel oil.

The project will continue for a specific period and its evaluation as well as the long-term decisions of the authorities will determine whether full-scale industrial production will become reality. The challenges facing new fuels lie primarily in taking a long-term view, producing sufficiently large quantities of biofuels, and handling distribution via a suitably large number of filling stations.

"The field test will give us valuable new insight into the potential of Bio-DME as a future vehicle fuel. The project still requires many tests, larger-scale fuel production and an extended infrastructure. And, perhaps most of all, clear guidelines from the authorities on how they view the fuel," says Volvo Trucks' President and CEO, Staffan Jufors.”

Click here to see a video about Volvo Trucks and Bio-DME.

Friday, October 2, 2009

BioDME production generously supported in Sweden

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: In a September 28 release in the Latest News section of its website, gasification technology company Chemrec announced a SEK 500 million (US$73 million) investment grant to Domsjo Fabriker to build an industrial scale, renewable motor fuels BioDME and Biomethanol demonstration plant based on Chemrec technology. Click here to read the full release.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Integrated Approach to Energy in BC

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Though few people are aware of it, British Columbia has the potential to become a clean energy superpower, the antithesis of our neighbor to the east mired in the tar sands. But to realize this potential, the BC Government, BC Hydro and BC businesses need to—dare we say it—”think outside the box”. Though the shameless use of the tired cliche in the previous sentence suggests otherwise, we have distinctive ideas, particularly about how to optimally use the bountiful energy resources with which this province is blessed. We have summarized these ideas in a short document which you can view by clicking here. Feedback, of course, is heartily encouraged.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

California’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Good News for BC’s Renewables Sector

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: In the September 16 post of Megawatt, the British Columbia renewable energy blog, Warren Brazier notes that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of an executive order requiring California utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, including out-of-state sources, is good news for BC’s renewables sector. Absolutely true, especially in combination with the BC government’s promotion of clean energy exports. At the end of the post, however, he comments, “Next up, signing some EPA’s (Energy Purchase Agreements) with the California utilities and building the transmission infrastructure.” This reference to transmission infrastructure gives rise to the question, Can the transmission infrastructure between BC and California be sufficiently upgraded within the next 10 years to enable BC renewables to play a major role in helping California reach the 33% by 2020 target? We’re skeptical, because of costs, as well as various political, environmental, and social issues.

Given the obstacles to short-term, large-scale expansion of the grid between BC and California, we believe that California utilities would be advised to weigh the merits of converting BC renewables such as hydro and wind to carbon-neutral Blue Fuel for the purpose of power generation. A superb energy carrier, Blue fuel is, in essence, liquid electricity. To put its energy carrying capacity in context, a single 80,000 tonne ship loaded with Blue Fuel could carry from Prince Rupert to Los Angeles the equivalent amount of energy that a 500 kV line could transmit between these cities. A truly multipurpose fuel, Blue Fuel can replace natural gas for power generation without modification to turbines or combustors. Manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and General Electric have all approved Blue Fuel for their gas turbines. Apart from being carbon-neutral, Blue Fuel burns much cleaner than natural gas, enhancing air quality and thus human health. Further, Blue Fuel produced in BC can be delivered to California using existing rail and shipping infrastructure. California utilities could begin using Blue Fuel with little capital investment. What’s more, because Blue Fuel feedstocks are renewable energy, water, and waste carbon dioxide, BC producers will be able to offer California utilities stable long-term pricing. By contrast, natural gas prices have a history of volatility. Although natural gas is currently inexpensive, the Conference Board of Canada has forecast much higher prices by 2013.

The case for Blue Fuel as a power generation fuel is convincing. If California utilities are not convinced, however, perhaps Japanese utilities will be. Market research to date is encouraging. Japan, after all is arguably the world leader in DME R&D and generates about one-quarter of its power with natural gas. In addition, the new government has determined that Japan will assume a leadership role amongst developed countries in reducing GHG emissions. More on this topic in upcoming posts . . .

Friday, September 18, 2009

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper release joint statement on clean energy

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently returned from an official visit to Washington, DC, to meet with US President Barack Obama. As is customary, the two leaders released a joint statement at the end of Mr. Harper's trip, and included in their statement was a mention of the two countries' progress on clean energy since President Obama's visit to Ottawa in February 2009.

Specifically, the statement referenced a report on the US - Canada Clean Energy Dialogue written under the names of US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the Canadian Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, as well as a related report the US - Canada Clean Energy Dialogue Action Plan.

Of the two reports, the Action Plan is longer, more detailed, and more relevant. It states that the two governments have identified "key opportunities for joint collaboration in each of the following priority areas: 1) Developing and deploying clean energy technologies; 2) Building a more efficient electrical grid based on clean and renewable generation; and 3) Expanding clean energy research and development.

Of significant interest to the DME/Blue Fuel world is a section of the Action Plan that deals with carbon capture and storage (CCS). As the report states, "CCS holds tremendous promise for North American climate and energy security, and is a critical technology for significantly reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from large industrial point sources that use fossil fuels." What is described above is a perfect match for Blue Fuel Energy's Corporation's plans to use renewable energy, such as wind and hydro, as well as water and waste carbon dioxide (in a process called active sequestration) to produce carbon-neutral DME/Blue Fuel in British Columbia, Canada.

Until now, natural gas processors and other industrial plant operators have considered CO2 a waste by-product and simply released it into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. The alternatives are to sequester it underground or, as Blue Fuel Energy will do, to recycle it for energy use. Of all the CCS choices, we believe our active sequestration process makes the most sense both environmentally, politicallty, and economically, particularly since it utilizes renewable electricity, an important plank in the US-Canada joint plan platform.

The US-Canada Action Plan makes the following five recommendations in order "to realize a reliable, adequate, and secure North American electrical system - which will support a cleaner energy portfolio while providing cost effective energy solutions to consumers."

1. Increasing Opportunities for Trade in Clean Electricity.
2. Advancing Smart Grid and Clean Power Technologies
3. Realizing the Potential of Power Storage
4. Building the Power Work Force of Tomorrow
5. Keeping the Dialogue Going - the Canada-US Electricty/Smart Grid Forum.

According to the Joint Action Plan, implementation of these recommendations is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2009.

Although none of the objectives or recommendations in the Joint Plan mention DME/Blue Fuel specifically, in principle they speak directly to DME/Blue Fuel's strengths as an ultra-clean-burning, environmentally benign alternative fuel derived from waste CO2 and renewable electricity - and that spells good news indeed not only for the DME/Blue Fuel industry, but for consumers and citizens of both countries as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bolivia seeks to become DME producer

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The Tarija Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Metrotec Energy in Bolivia are jointly promoting the use of Bolivia’s extensive natural gas reserves (100TCF) to produce DME for export to countries in Asia and the US. At this stage the concept is still being explored, but it is encouraging to note that proposals to produce DME are now emerging from around the world. To read more about this endeavor in Latin America please look at this presentation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

US Energy Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $300 Million in Grants to Support Clean Fuels, Vehicles, and Infrastructure Development

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On Wednesday, August 26, the US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in a speech and on the US Department of Energy (DOE) website the selection of 25 cost-share projects under the Clean Cities program that will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects will speed the transformation of the nation’s vehicle fleet, putting more than 9,000 alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles on the road, and establishing 542 refueling locations across the country. The Department of Energy also estimates they will help displace approximately 38 million gallons of petroleum per year.

“The Clean Cities program is helping give state and local governments the tools they need to build a greener transportation system that will create new jobs and help to put America on the path to a clean energy future,” said Secretary Chu. “Advancing the number of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles on the road will increase our energy security, decrease our dependence on oil, and reduce pollution across the country.”

Under the Recovery Act, the Clean Cities program will fund a range of energy efficient and advanced vehicle technologies, such as hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles, helping reduce petroleum consumption across the U.S. In addition, funding will support refueling infrastructure for various alternative fuel vehicles, including biofuels and natural gas. Other efforts under the Clean Cities program include public education and training initiatives to further the program’s goal of reducing the national demand for petroleum.

The projects announced by Secretary Chu will support a combined total of more than 9,000 light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles and establish 542 refueling locations across the country. The vehicles and infrastructure being funded include the use of natural and renewable gas, propane, ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hybrid technologies. And with the cost share contributions from the recipients, every federal dollar spent will be matched by nearly two dollars from the project partners.

The DOE announcement has several implications for Blue Fuel/DME producers. First, it means that the United States government is taking alternative fuels seriously - clearly a good thing. Secondly, because Blue Fuel/DME is hydrogen rich and can readily be reformed into hydrogen, it is an excellent fuel for onboard hydrogen reforming in hydrogen-powered vehicles. Finally, since natural-gas vehicles are being promoted by the DOE, the need for carbon capture of excess CO2 from natural gas processing plants becomes even more critical. Through the process of active sequestration - the recycling of carbon dioxide for the production of commercial products - combined with renewable energy, we can produce an alternative fuel (Blue Fuel) that represents an immediate solution to the CO2 emissions problems facing natural gas producers all over North America - and, hopefully, even beyond.

Friday, August 28, 2009

BC Government forges ahead with clean energy plan

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The summer of 2009 has certainly been a tumultuous one for the renewable energy industry here in British Columbia. On July 26 the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC)—an independent regulatory agency of the provincial government—shocked the industry and the government by rejecting the 2008 Long Term Acquisition Plan (LTAP) of BC Hydro, a BC crown corporation, saying that it was not in the public interest and ordering BC Hydro to deliver a new LTAP by June 30, 2010. That myopic decision completely ignored the BC Government’s 2007 Energy Plan and various other progressive policies. It also dropped a wet blanket on billions of dollars in investment in green power generation. Appalled by this cheeky pulling of the plug on its initiatives, the government boldly stated its resolve to pick the plug up off the floor and jam it back in the socket.

A mere month after the BCUC decision debacle, the BC Government appears ready to deliver; in its August 25 throne speech (outlining the agenda for the upcoming session of the legislature) the government clearly states what it plans to do to ensure that BC is a leader in renewable energy and climate change mitigation. Sections of the speech most germane to the renewable energy industry are as follows:
  • “Green energy will be a cornerstone of British Columbia's climate action plan.”
  • “Electricity self-sufficiency and clean, renewable power generation will be integral to our effort to fight global warming.
  • The BC Utilities Commission will receive specific direction.
  • Phasing out Burrard Thermal is a critical component of B.C.'s greenhouse gas reduction strategy.” (Burrard Thermal is an archaic natural gas power generation facility that BCUC proposed ramping up.)
  • “Further, this government will capitalize on the world's desire and need for clean energy, for the benefit of all British Columbians.” (Clean power exports . . . )
  • “Whether it is the development of Site C, run-of-river hydro power, wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, or bioenergy and biomass — British Columbia will take every step necessary to become a clean energy powerhouse, as indicated in the BC Energy Plan.”
  • “We will build on past successes with new strategies aimed at developing new clean, renewable power as a competitive advantage to stimulate new investment, industry and employment.”
  • New energy producers will be looking for long-term investments leveraged through long-term power contracts that give them a competitive edge in our province.
  • “We will open up that power potential with new vigour, new prescribed clean power calls and new investments in transmission.”
  • A new Green Energy Advisory Task Force will shortly be appointed to complement the work of the BCUC's long-term transmission requirement review. That task force will be asked to recommend a blueprint for maximizing British Columbia's clean power potential, including a principled, economically-viable and environmentally-sustainable export development policy.”
  • “It will review the policies, incentives and impediments currently affecting B.C.'s green power potential, and it will identify best practices employed in other leading jurisdictions.”
  • Low-carbon gas development is the key to maximizing B.C.'s energy potential where it can occur with minimal environmental impact.

Although the government does not specifically mention carbon-neutral Blue Fuel/DME in this speech from the throne, it does support its production by:

1) Vigorously promoting expansion of renewable electricity generation above and beyond large-scale hydro, which is currently the basis for Blue Fuel/DME production in the province;
2) Recognizing that gas is a key to maximizing the province’s energy potential, but that this gas must be low-carbon (for example, natural gas in which the CO2 is “actively sequestered” or recycled, as it would be to produce Blue Fuel/DME.

We at Blue Fuel Energy look forward to learning more about the “specific direction” that the BC Government will shortly be providing BCUC.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Methane recovery and monitoring systems may have Blue Fuel/DME implications

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: As reported recently on the website, Mineweb, the advance of methane recovery and monitoring equipment technology is helping companies in a broad range of fields to improve safety and generate new revenue.

In terms of background, coal mine methane (CMM) is a greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global warming potential 21 times greater than that of CO2. Author John Chadwick estimates that by 2020 CMM emissions from the world's coal mines will increase by 30% from current levels and represent about 8% of methane emissions generated by human activity.

Although capturing methane emissions is both a mine safety issue and a necessity for decreasing GHG emissions, it is also a business opportunity. For example, methane gas can be burnt to create electricity. In 2007 UK Coal, a pioneer in the use of this technology, earned a US$10m profit by using gas extracted from its mines to power over 40,000 hones.

Chadwick also asks the question: what are the wider opportunities which this advanced method of methane monitoring is now helping facilitate? To give some examples, captured methane can be used for natural gas pipeline injection, electric power generation, co-firing in boilers, district heating, mine heating, coal drying, vehicle fuel, and manufacturing uses such as feedstock for carbon black, methanol - and, most importantly for readers of this blog, the production of dimethyl ether.

Also, for the very low concentration methane in mine ventilation air, technological development has progressed to the point that this CMM source can be oxidised and the resulting thermal energy used to produce heat, electricity, and refrigeration.

Although the Mineweb article does not state specifically that methane drainage techniques are being used for Blue Fuel/DME production, it is interesting to note that China - the world's leading DME producer - is also the leader in purchasing this new-generation methane capture equipment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Perspectives on methanol

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Although DME can be manufactured directly from synthesis gas produced by the gasification of coal or biomass, or through natural gas reforming, world production today is primarily through the catalytic dehydration of methanol. Given that Blue Fuel Energy will produce methanol to produce Blue Fuel/DME, it is important to be informed about methanol because it too is an alternative fuel garnering considerable attention. It is certainly not lost upon Blue Fuel Energy that if demand for methanol were to escalate, being in a position to introduce a carbon-neutral version of it into the marketplace would have its advantages.

Methanol, of course, has its detractors and proponents. The monthly magazine Energy Tribune has recently presented articles from both camps in the methanol debate. To learn the views of detractor Geoffrey Styles, please read this July 16 piece; in response, the Methanol Institute has responded to Styles article in this July 29 article by John Lynn.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Natural gas royalties in BC

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Following up on our August 6 post about BC’s GHG emission baseline—and the role that Blue Fuel/DME produced with renewables can play in helping the province comply with its Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act–on that very day Toronto's Globe and Mail featured an article by Dave Ebner titled “BC slashes natural gas royalties”.

As Mr. Ebner points out, all wells drilled in BC from September through the end of June 20 will be charged a nominal royalty of 2% for the first year of production, a move designed to spark drilling in the province’s northeast. The BC Government is aggressively seeking to spark drilling for natural gas in the northeastern part of the province, where the huge Montney and Horn River gas plays are located. The government’s reliance upon these gas plays to help it deal with its rising deficit is very real—as will be the carbon dioxide emissions that these plays will generate when production gets cranked up. The natural gas processing industry is already a huge generator of carbon dioxide emissions in BC, which means that both this industry and the BC government have a major problem on their hands.

The only solution proposed thus far is the passive sequestration of this carbon dioxide into subsurface geological formations, a measure that is experimental, alarmingly expensive—and wasteful of captured carbon dioxide. It is Blue Fuel Energy’s view that active sequestration of this valuable resource by using it as a feedstock for Blue Fuel/DME is the answer. Natural gas processors can relieve themselves of their carbon burden and the government can rightfully claim that BC is setting an example to the rest of the world when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LCE BioEnergy LLC initiates biomass to DME project

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: It is encouraging to note that efforts are being made in the US to produce low-carbon DME through the gasification of biomass. Located in Lackawanna, New York, just south of Buffalo in the northwestern corner of the state, LCE BioEnergy will use DME technology from JFE Holdings in Japan and consult with stalwarts of the DME field such as Dr. Theo Flesch (IDA) and Jim McCandless (Alternative Fuel Technology). For a summary of the project, please click here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

BC Government sets 2007 GHG emission baseline

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On July 30 BC Environment Minister Barry Penner and Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap reaffirmed the BC Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by releasing the British Columbia Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report 2007. According to the report, in 2007, BC emitted 67.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Trends in GHG emissions in BC show a 21% increase from 1990, a 7.6% increase since 1997, and a 3.8% increase since 2006.

2007 was established under the provincial Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act as the base year for calculation of GHG emissions targets. The Act puts into law BC’s target of reducing GHGs by at least 33% below 2007 levels by 2020 and includes the long-term target of an 80% reduction below 2007 levels by 2050.

Complying with the Act it created is a daunting task for the BC Government. On a page of its LiveSmart BC website discussing BC’s greenhouse gas emissions, the government recognizes that the two primary drivers for the growth in GHG emissions since 1990 are population growth and expansion of the natural gas industry. Although the industry did boom from 1990 to 2007, it is now poised for a gas boom to end all gas booms as a result of natural gas discoveries in the Horn River Basin in northeastern BC. Indications are that the Horn River discovery is the largest discovery of natural gas in Canadian history.

Given the demise of the forest industry in BC and other economic shortcomings that have resulted in substantial revenue shortfalls for the government, the prospect of exploiting the natural gas resources of the Horn River Basin is enticing. Too enticing for the government to ignore. That said, the processing of natural gas generates huge volumes of carbon dioxide. Too much carbon for the government to ignore. A dilemma indeed.

Fortunately, there is a solution—producing Blue Fuel/DME using wind energy—which is also abundant in northeastern BC—and waste carbon dioxide from natural gas processing. Energy synergy at its finest. The BC Government has been apprised of this opportunity to make BC a wind energy powerhouse, a natural gas powerhouse—and a Blue Fuel/DME powerhouse. It will be fascinating to see how the government responds. Stay tuned to this blog for more.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chemrec's grant application for industrial-scale biofuels plant accepted by Swedish Energy Agency

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Chemrec recently announced that the Swedish Energy Agency has selected for further consideration a grant application from Chemrec to build an industrial-scale plant to produce renewable automotive fuel from biomass through gasification of black liquor. The planned location will be at the Domsjo biorefinery complex in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

Since 2005 Chemrec has been operating a black liquor gasification pilot plant in Piteå in northern Sweden. This project is currently being expanded with a BioDME production facility.

The next step is to go from a pilot plant to an industrial scale plant. Should this grant application be successful it will provide US$64 million towards the total cost of US$350 million to make this a reality. It is estimated that the plant could be fully operational by late 2012.

“The energy feedstock for the fuel is logging residues, bark and industrial wood waste. The project will create substantial employment under the construction phase and permanently in forestry and plant operation.

“Fully implemented the technology can globally reduce fossil origin carbon dioxide emissions by over 90 million tons annually and replace about 30 million tons of fossil-origin diesel oil with renewable fuel. Planned production in this full-scale Chemrec plant is about 100,000 metric tons second-generation renewable automotive fuels BioDME and Biomethanol produced from gasified black liquor from pulp mills. It will reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions by about 250,000 metric tons per year.”

While the future of DME in Europe looks promising, a related story shows that there is more work to do in North America. Newpage Corporation, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, recently announced that they will discontinue work on a biofuels gasification plant slated for a pulp and paper mill in Michigan. They had partnered with Chemrec on the project.

The cost of the installation combined with the low current market prices for methanol and DME plus the lack of demand for methanol and DME as transportation fuels in North America were given as reasons for shelving the project.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Indonesian presidential ticket included DME in energy policy

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Although the Indonesian general election is over and the ticket of Megawati Soekarnoputri and her running mate Prabowo Subianto lost to incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Blue Fuel/DME featured prominently in the energy policy of the second-place finishers.

According to an article in the Jakarta Post, Megawati and Prabowo proposed constructing "geothermal and hydroelectric plants to generate 10,000 MW, to build DME refineries, and to build 56-MTPA bio-ethanol plants (with 4 million hectares dedicated to growing sugar palms, in a plan intended to create 24 million jobs). It is believed that they included DME in their platform because Indonesia has significant experience in gas processing, if not in Blue Fuel/DME processing itself.

Since 1977, Indonesia has exported LNG to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States and natural gas by pipe to Singapore and Malaysia and it is considered a problem that a country rich in various energy resources has become oil-dominated and allowed itself to be trapped as a net oil importer. A key element of Indonesian energy policy recently is energy security and the Blue Fuel/DME refineries were intended to help with the security issue.

Megawati Soekarnoputri is the leader of the PDI-P party. She served as the President of Indonesia from 23 July, 2001 to 20 October, 2004 and was the country's first female President. She is also the first Indonesian leader to be born after independence. Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Swedish investment in hydrogen fuel converters

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: As reported in The Engineer Online recently, two Swedish organizations - one government, one private - are investing in fuel cell development to the tune of over US$30 million over the next three years.

Specifically, the Swedish Energy Agency and Volvo are jointly investing SEK200m (£15.7m or US$25.7m) in the development of fuel cells, a move that should hopefully create roughly 100 jobs in the Gothenburg region over the next three years.

What's exciting from a Blue Fuel/DME Standpoint is that fuel converters can produce hydrogen gas from DME as well as biogas, methanol, ethanol, biodiesel, and also from regular diesel or petrol. The PEM fuel cell then converts the hydrogen gas into electricity. Per Wassén, investment director at Volvo Technology Transfer and chairman of Powercell Sweden said that "This is truly a major step in the development of fuel cells.’

To accelerate the introduction of fuel cells into the market, the Volvo Group, through Volvo Technology Transfer, will receive investment from Midroc New Technology and OCAS, as well as from the Swedish Energy Agency.

Powercell Sweden is founded on two patented components: a fuel converter (reformer) and a PEM fuel cell, which is the type of fuel cell most often used in transport applications.

"Thanks to our reformer technology we are now ready to start our production without having to wait for an infrastructure for the distribution of hydrogen gas,"’ said Wassén.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

US Energy Secretary meets DME producer and academics in China

As reported on both the US Department of Energy's (DOE) website and, among others, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke were in China from July 14-17 to "highlight the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial relationships in the clean energy sector."

“Clean energy will drive the economy of the future, both in the United States and around the world,” Chu said. “From renewable energy to more efficient buildings to carbon capture and storage, clean energy technologies can create millions of jobs. Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone. It’s in our interest and China’s to explore ways to cooperate for our mutual benefit -- by promoting renewable energy, encouraging energy efficiency and cutting pollution.”

Besides meeting with important Chinese government officials such as Zhang Ping (Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission) and Wan Gang (Minister of Science), Secretaries Chu and Locke had two important sessions extremely relevant to the Blue Fuel/DME world.

On Wednesday, July 15, "Secretary Chu delivered a major address to an audience of top scientists, faculty and students at Tsinghua University focusing on the growing threat China and the U.S. face from climate change, from extreme heat waves to declining rice and agricultural production to flooding of major urban areas in coastal regions. He stressed that dealing with climate change presents opportunities as well as challenges, including the opportunity to create millions of jobs in the clean energy sector. He also outlined a number of solutions that the two countries are working to address, such as developing more efficient batteries, lower cost photovoltaics, and commercial scale carbon capture and sequestration technologies."

The significance of the Tsinghua University address for the Blue Fuel/DME industry is that one of Tsinghua University's leading environmental scientists is Professor Ni Weidou, well known for his innovative research into making the production of methanol/DME "greener" by integrating wind power with the modern coal chemical industry. Also, as an interesting human aside, Secretary Chu noted in his talk that both his parents were graduates of Tsinghua University and that his aunt was a chemistry professor at Tsinghua as well.

On the final day of their official trip, Secretaries Chu and Locke visited ENN headquarters in Langfang, Hebei Province (population approx. 62 million) in northeast China. ENN is an "innovative and integrated 'new energy' company founded in 1989" and is now China's seventh largest private company. On its Langfang campus, ENN "has a cutting-edge underground low-temperature coal gasification plant producing dimethyl ether and has also "recently signed a contract to build a plant in Egypt that will produce 200,000 tons of dimethyl ether annually."

That Secretary Chu, arguably the world's most influential environmental policy maker, met with such important DME players as ENN and Tsinghua University academics (and where he has personal connections, as well) during his trip to China seems fortuitous and good news indeed for anyone involved in the Blue Fuel/DME world.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

DME world gearing up for 6th Asian DME Conference in Seoul

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The 6th annual Asian DME Conference (2009) will take place in Seoul, South Korea from Thursday, September 17th to Saturday September 19th, 2009.

Hosted by the Korea DME Association (chairman, Professor Gye-Gyu Lim, who is also president of the KDA), the conference venue is the Hotel Seoul KyoYuk MunHwa HoeKwan (located in southern Seoul near the Yang-Jae subway station on Line 3, south of the Han River).

According to the conference website, there will be technical tour on Sept. 19th and presentation topics include:

1. Technology / Society / Economic Vision of DME
2. Manufacturing Technology of DME
3. The Technology of Using DME in Development of Commerce, Industry,
4. LPG / Diesel Alternatives
5. Environment Issues & DME Safety
6. Supply Plan of DME (Market, Business Model, Supply Chain etc.).

Pre-registration deadline for the Asian DME conference is August 31, 2009.

The International DME Association website, lists other key conferences to follow including the International Conference on Coal Science & Technology in Cape Town, South Africa (Oct 26 - 29, 2009) and the World Methanol Conference in Miami, Florida, USA (Dec 8-9, 2009).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alternative Fuel Technology Inc. making DME headlines

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Alternative Fuel Technology, Inc. (AFTC), a research, development, and manufacturing organization for advanced fuel systems using DME and based in Detroit, Michigan, has been making DME headlines recently.

As reported in Marketwire recently, AFTC has completed submission of its advanced propulsion solution for the US Navy. According to the article, "The US NAVY is in need of an alternative to current diesel fuel propulsion systems; one that allows for increased payloads without sacrificing speed and acceleration. More specifically, an innovative solution that decreases 'weight to power ratios' significantly, thereby enabling increases in mission system payload weight and personnel transport capability."

To answer this need, "(AFTC) submitted its proposal on June 15, ahead of schedule, and expects an answer in the next 60 to 90 days. The project includes three phases. Phase one could generate a total $100,000; Phase two could exceed $1,000,000, and Phase three which includes the completion of a full prototype engine installed in a marine craft, would likely approach $20,000,000. The US NAVY defines only the scope of the work rather than the contract dollar amount."

CEO Jim McCandless reported that, "All of us here in management at AFTC feel really solid about the proposal we submitted. Our proposal is not only extremely competitive, but we believe our technological ingenuity and ability to provide the next generation of fuel solutions can satisfy the Navy objectives of hauling greater weight without putting our troops' lives at risk. Gaining this opportunity would be a win for the company, of course, but a project we would be elated to be a part of."

More recently, on July 8, WebWire reported that AFTC had "received a second order from the Korea Institute of Energy (KIER) for four more DME feed pumps. This order brings the total purchased by the KIER to 10.

"KIER is adopting AFTC DME technology as a gradual replacement for traditional diesel fuel to improve air quality and strengthen Korea’s energy security." Yahoo Science also picked up the story and added that, "KIER ... views DME as an economic means by which the country may improve air quality and gain increased energy security in the future. In addition, government officials realize the potentially massive economic benefits associated with widespread adoption of DME as a fuel source." The Korea Institute of Energy is a Government entity which focuses on advanced energy Research and Developments projects with the goal of mass implementation and Commercialization of efficient, clean energy alternatives.

Finally, on June 23 in a story on and other sites, AFTC announced that, "after the signing of a contract in 2008 with Ford Motor Company to supply them with a DME fuel system for a single cylinder alternative fuels/emissions research project, the Company is on schedule to make delivery of the DME Fuel System in August of this year. AFTC is using a Ford Land Rover 4-cylinder diesel engine that will fire only on one cylinder. The Company is testing this system now and all tests currently are on track for shipping. If successful, Ford has stated that they will do a full engine and car demonstration."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama administration says research and development key to innovation

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The Obama administration in the United States has made innovation in the field of alternative energy a cornerstone of their platform to advance the American economy. To support this strategy, the Department of Energy (DOE) is funding many research and development projects.

One example is a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-000103) designed to encourage research and development in the field of hydrogen extraction from coal. While the $five million grant is not huge, it demonstrates a belief that alternative fuel technologies could lead the way out of the current global recession and provide many of the answers to the current global climate crisis.

The DOE states: “This program is designed to support the Department of Energy (DOE) Strategic Plan by providing core competencies related to Hydrogen Separations Technologies. The specific objective of this activity is to competitively solicit projects under the Hydrogen and Clean Fuels program area to develop novel Hydrogen Production technologies. The goal of the Hydrogen and Clean Fuels program is to develop advanced and novel energy technologies which will facilitate the use of our nation’s abundant coal resources to produce, deliver, store, and utilize affordable hydrogen in an environmentally clean manner. The program helps to reduce environmental concerns associated with energy use in automotive and stationary power applications through clean production of hydrogen from coal in tandem with carbon sequestration, and will ensure availability of hydrogen in sufficient volumes for fuel cell-powered vehicles expected to enter the transportation market sector in the future.”

Although the emphasis of the research is on developing sufficient hydrogen resources for a future based on hydrogen-fueled vehicles, the potential to use new technologies developed under this program to produce other alternative fuels, such as Blue Fuel/DME, is evident.

The type of forward-thinking commitment to funding research and development exemplified here by the DOE should serve as a model for all governments looking for answers to the challenges the world is currently facing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chemrec black liquor gasifier reaches 10,000 operating hours producing green syngas

BLUE FUEL ENERGY.COM: Readers of this website and the blog in particular are familiar with our support of the BioDME project in Sweden. Here is the latest update from Chemrec:

“The Chemrec development plant in Piteå, Sweden has now reached 10,000 accumulated operating hours. Chemrec’s plant is the only gasification plant world-wide producing high-quality synthesis gas based on 100 % renewable feedstock. The syngas will be used to produce second generation green motor fuels.

The development plant, DP-1, has a capacity of 20 metric tons of solids per day, is oxygen-blown and has an operating pressure of 30 bar(g). It gasifies black liquor, a by-product in the kraft process, using the Chemrec entrained-flow, high temperature technology. This technology is unique in that it is from a renewable feedstock and in a single step achieves full char conversion to produce a gas which is very low in methane and tars -- essential characteristics of synthesis gas -- for production of synthetic motor fuels or chemicals.

The results achieved in DP-1 are being used in the current scale-up of the technology to full commercial size gasifier units for 500 metric tons of solids per day. The full-scale technology has in several independent evaluations been shown to provide uniquely high greenhouse gas emission reductions and energy efficiency while providing an opportunity for very substantial second-generation biofuels production.

In a separate activity, the BioDME project, Chemrec together with partners is adding a technical demonstration plant for production of dimethyl ether, DME, to the DP-1 facility. The DME, a high-performance second-generation diesel fuel, will be used in fleet trials with heavy trucks by AB Volvo.

Chemrec AB is a Swedish company providing technology for black liquor gasification which integrated in pulp mills provides the opportunity to produce large quantities of renewable motor fuels or electricity from biomass. The technology has the potential to globally provide motor fuels equivalent to over 45 billion litres/year of gasoline (12 billion gallons/year). Chemrec's owners are VantagePoint Venture Partners, Volvo Technology Transfer, Environmental Technologies Fund and Nykomb Synergetics.”

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tokyo DME Seminar a Success

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On Tuesday, June 16th, approximately 300 people attended the DME Seminar 2009 in the Heisei Plaza at the Tokyo International Exchange located on Tokyo's waterfront.

The Seminar was a cooperative venture of prominent Japanese DME organizations: the Japan DME Vehicle Promotion Committee (DMEVPC), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan DME Forum, and the DME Promotion Center. The meeting also had the support of the Kanto Economic Development Organization as well as Kanagawa and Niigata Prefectures and Niigata City..

Hosted by Dr. Mitsuhara Oguma of AIST, the seminar theme was Opening Doors to the Practical Application of DME.

There were seven presentations and included topics such as the Practical Applications of DME in Japan, Japanese Trends in DME, the Approach of Regional Governments to DME, DME in China Today, LPG/DME Blending Technology, Dewatering Technology for Sewage Sludge and a Panel Discussion which included a presentation from Canada's Blue Fuel Energy Corporation.

Noted speakers included Dr. Shinichi Goto of AIST, Akira Ishiwada of FDME and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Yasuhito Mikita of Iwatani International, Emiko Murakami of the Kitakyushu Office for International Environmental Cooperation, Koichi Nishimura of Isuzu Motors, and others. The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Iida of Keio University while the closing address was by Chairman Fujimoto of Japan DME Forum.

Following up on the seminar, on Monday, June 22, DMEVPC's Fuel Group held a working session which included six presentations including sessions on ISO standards for DME purity from Mr. Hiroshi Kita of MGC and Professor Oguma of ASIT, as well as a fascinating overview of world fuel markets from Total Japan. Blue Fuel Energy Corp. was also invited to give a presentation as were members from Bosch and JFE Holdings. Yasuto Ando of JFE's Corporate Planning Dept. described the trial project "100 Tons of DME per Day" which, though successful in achieving its goal, ended in 2006 in Kushiro, Japan.

Twenty-two Fuel Group members and guests attended the session.

Monday, June 29, 2009

$1.9 billion DME plant in Indonesia

BLUE FUEL ENERGY.COM: On June 25, 2009 the Jakarta Post published an article announcing the construction of a new DME plant in Indonesia, an encouraging development for proponents of this fuel around the world. Although the article notes that the DME is produced from ethanol, this clearly is a typo or a mistranslation given that DME is typically derived from methanol.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is the time right for underground coal gasification?

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel on the planet. Given the human population’s insatiable appetite for energy, it is unlikely that this resource will go untapped. Therefore, the challenge is to develop methods that allow coal to be exploited in as environmentally sensitive a way as possible, so that we may reap the economic rewards of the energy it holds without compromising the livability of the planet.

One of the conventional methods of producing DME is through the gasification of mined coal to produce syngas which is then synthesized into DME. This process can be costly and environmentally damaging. The underground gasification of coal (UGC) may offer some answers to these disadvantages.

The UCG Partnership has outlined the basic concept behind UCG and a number of financial and environmental advantages of UCG relative to conventional mining and subsequent gasification techniques.

“Underground Coal Gasification is the gasification of coal in situ, directly in the underground seam, producing a high quality, affordable synthetic gas that can be processed to provide fuels for power generation, diesel fuels, jet fuels, hydrogen, fertilisers and chemical feedstocks. The technique offers many financial and social benefits over traditional extraction methods, most notably lower emissions, as no coal is brought to the surface and the gas can be processed to remove its CO2 content.

Many countries rich in coal reserves have few alternative indigenous energy sources, however nearly 85% of known coal reserves are deemed unmineable with surface mining techniques… Experts believe UCG could triple or quadruple the availability of coal globally.

Financial Benefits
• Capital and operating costs are lower than in traditional mining
• Reduced cost of plant installation - No Surface Gasifier
• Syngas can be piped directly to the end-user, reducing the need for rail / road infrastructure
• Lowers the cost of environmental clean up due to solid waste being confined underground
• CCGT power plants can be switched from natural gas to cheaper UCG product gas
• Manufacture of chemicals such as ammonia and fertilizers
• Synthesis of liquid fuels at a predicted cost equivalent to US$20/barrel
• Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) by injection of stripped CO2
Environmental Benefits
• UCG may not require an external water source to operate, a major environmental advantage over water-intensive coal mining operations and pulverised-coal-fired energy production methods
• Lower emissions, because gasification in UCG is underground thereby reducing environmental management costs
• Particulates are generated at half the rate of their surface equivalents and stay underground
• Lower fugitive dust, noise, visual impact on the surface
• Low risk of surface water pollution
• Reduced methane emissions - coal seam gas is recovered in the process, rather than lost in the atmosphere as in most conventional mining
• No dirt handling and disposal at mine sites
• No coal washing and fines disposal at mine sites
• Smaller surface footprints at power stations
• Lower water recovery and significant surface hazard liabilities on abandonment

In addition to these benefits, the linking of carbon capture and storage with underground coal gasification makes the argument for UCG even more compelling. Carbon dioxide can be stripped out of the syngas produced through gasification and reinjected into the very coal seam from which it was extracted, making for a carbon neutral energy cycle."

There is still much work to be done in the field of underground coal gasification. While it has been in commercial application in the Soviet Union for over 40 years, development elsewhere has been slow. But with the ever increasing need to reduce our carbon footprint, it seems like the time may be ripe for this technology to reach its full potential.

Friday, June 5, 2009

China Energy Ltd. optimistic about DME prospects despite price fluctuation

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: China Energy Limited, a Singapore-registered company with group offices in Linyi, Shandong, PRC, is China's leading DME producer with an output capacity of 900,000 metric tons per annum.

According to their most recent Financial Statement and Dividend Announcement, however, China Energy's ability to produce DME at full capacity may be restricted by lower energy prices for both DME and LPG resulting from the financial market turmoil worldwide and in the PRC, particularly since the price of DME is linked closely to that of LPG.

Despite these price challenges, China Energy believes that, even short-term, DME prospects in China are good and cite the VAT reduction on DME from 17% to 15% last year as a key indication that the PRC government is firmly behind DME as a means to reduce air pollution and as a prudent energy security initiative - important reasons that apply also to Blue Fuel, DME produced from renewable sources.

China Energy uses a patented stet technology called “Liquid Phase Compound Acid Dehydration Production Process”, which enables them to produce DME at lower temperatures and lower pressures, compared to more conventional DME production methods.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Core sampling signals next step in large-scale sequestration project

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: A large-scale carbon dioxide sequestration project is under development in northern British Columbia, Canada. The project is located near Spectra Energy’s Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant. The project is an international collaboration that includes Spectra Energy, the Province of British Columbia, Natural Resources Canada, the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

In its press release the DOE describes the project as one of the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage projects in a saline aquifer in North America. With projected storage of over two million tons of CO2 per year it is slated to be one of the largest carbon sequestration projects in the world. The goal of the project is to develop technology, infrastructure and regulations for the implementation of large-scale CO2 sequestration.

The PCOR Partnership has begun collecting core samples and is implementing a well logging program. “Core sampling and well logging help determine a site’s geologic suitability for safe and permanent storage of CO2. Coring of the Elk Point rock formations at Fort Nelson will provide researchers, geologists, and reservoir experts with characterization data of the carbonate formations that will be used to store the CO2 and the impermeable shale layers above that will act as a cap rock to contain the CO2. As part of these activities, numerous geomechanical and geochemical tests designed to evaluate the performance of the reservoir and containment rocks will be performed.

The information collected from the core samples, together with tests and well logging, will be critical in developing simulation models and the anticipated design and implementation of CO2 injection. The project is expected to involve the eventual transportation of CO2 from Spectra Energy’s Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant to the injection site.”

This is just one of many stories about CO2 capture and storage appearing recently. For Blue Fuel/DME producers these news stories are promising ones. For conventional producers of Blue Fuel/DME from coal and natural gas feedstocks, the development of carbon capture and storage technology at the production stage is crucial for the acceptance of their product in a world increasingly dominated by the concept of carbon-neutrality. In addition, should producers of conventional or carbon-neutral Blue Fuel/DME sell their product for utilization at a point source such as an electrical power plant, carbon capture and storage at the end stage would further enhance the green profile of their fuel, increase its competitive edge and further reduce its impact on global climate change.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Researchers investigate co-electrolysis of water and CO2 to develop carbon-neutral energy cycle

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Blue Fuel Energy has been working to develop methods to produce Blue Fuel/DME in a carbon-neutral manner through the electrolysis of H2O and the use of captured CO2.

Researchers at Northwestern University are thinking along similar lines. They are experimenting with the co-electrolysis of H2O and CO2 to develop a carbon-neutral energy cycle as described recently in the online journal Energy & Fuels.

They propose to use renewable electricity to power a solid oxide electrolysis cell to produce syngas. The syngas will then undergo catalytic conversion to a liquid fuel such as methanol which will be used in a direct fuel cell. The byproducts of the fuel cell, H2O and CO2, would then be recycled back into the co-electrolysis process.

As reported by the Green Car Congress:

“Most of the major steps of the proposed liquid fuel cycle—catalytic fuel production from syngas; storage and transport of the fuel; and operation of fuel cells on methanol or liquid hydrocarbons are either already in widespread use or have been demonstrated. The only step not yet extensively investigated is the electrolytic production of syngas, the primary topic of the paper.”

Blue Fuel Energy is also working with the challenge of producing syngas through electrolysis so we will be following the work of these researchers with interest as we all seek ways to bring a carbon-neutral energy cycle to fruition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blue Fuel Energy engages NORAM Engineering

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Having completed preliminary scoping studies, Blue Fuel Energy has engaged NORAM Engineering of Vancouver to conduct the feasibility engineering phase of its project to produce Blue Fuel from renewables, water, and waste carbon dioxide in northeastern British Columbia. Recognized worldwide as a leader in electrochemistry, NORAM is expected to complete its study in August. The study will enable Blue Fuel Energy to advance project development activities as it will include preliminary design and construction cost estimates. These would then continue to be refined throughout the subsequent detailed engineering phases of the project.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Synthetic fuel from biomass coming to California

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Rentech, Inc. recently announced plans to build in Rialto, California a plant that uses biomass to produce synthetic fuel. The plant will also produce 35 megawatts of renewable electricity to be sold into the grid, enough to power 30,000 homes. Upon completion the plant will have almost no carbon footprint as the fuel and electricity will be produced from renewable feedstocks.

The Rialto Renewable Energy Center (Rialto Project) is designed to produce about 600 barrels a day of synthetic RenDiesel, which has significantly lower emissions of particulates and other regulated pollutants than ultra-low sulfur diesel and meets targets set by the Lower Carbon Fuel Standard (see earlier post). The primary feedstock for this second-generation biofuel will be urban, woody green waste such as yard clippings, a low-value waste stream relative to first-generation biofuel feedstocks that use food grade crops as feedstocks. The plant will also be able to use biosolids for a portion of the feedstocks, through a supply agreement with EnerTech Environmental. Rentech has reached a licensing agreement with SilvaGas Corporation to use their biomass gasification technology to produce syngas, which is then subjected to the Rentech Process for conversion to RenDiesel.

The Rialto Project production process is similar to that of the BioDME project in Sweden. With California now entering into synthetic fuel production, perhaps production in the state of another synthetic fuel—Blue Fuel/DME—will not be far behind.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Japan DME Vehicle Promotion Committee to hold June Tokyo seminar

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On Tuesday, June 16th, 2009, the Japan DME Vehicle Promotion Committee is holding a DME seminar with the theme of "Towards Practical Applications of DME."

This free-of-charge seminar will take place in the Plaza Heisei at the Tokyo International Exchange Center in Tokyo's Koto Ward.

Presentations will include reports on the state of DME in Japan and China as well as more specific talks on waste streams and the progress being made towards the use of DME in vehicles.

The DME Vehicle Promotion Committee was formed in 2006 and is subsidized by a number of Japanese government organizations, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as well as JOGMEC, a sub-group of the Ministry of of Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI). Originally composed of 17 private companies but now consisting of 13, the current committee includes such major firms as Idemitsu Kosan, Isuzu Advanced Engineering, Iwatani Corporation, Japan DME Ltd., JFE Holdings, Toyota Tsusho, and others.

Representatives of Blue Fuel Energy Corporation of Sidney, BC, will also be attending the conference.

Friday, May 15, 2009

DME as forklift fuel?

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Although forklifts may not figure prominently in most discussions about alternative fuels, two recent news items suggest they are not being ignored either.

The first story is related to the recent announcement by the US Department of Energy that funding for fuel cell R&D was being reduced. As reported in Hybrid Cars and other blogs and print publications, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has proposed slashing the Energy Department’s hydrogen program funding by almost 60%, or more than $100 million, with most of the cuts occurring in the transportation sector.

At the same times as these mainstream transportation cuts are to occur, however, Secretary Chu has pledged almost $42 million as part of President Obama’s American and Reinvestment Act to fund 13 projects which will deploy nearly 1,000 fuel cell systems, mainly for forklifts, because: "these key early markets [are ones] in which fuel cells can compete with conventional power technologies.”

The second story comes from the Modern Materials Handling website where Tom Andel reports that: "we shouldn’t be surprised to see a propane/DME blend starting to be used in forklifts.” With propane already being used extensively as a forklift power source, the blend transition seems a natural one and could help reduce the carbon footprint in a wide range of industries since forklifts are such common vehicles in warehouses and loading docks all over the world. Blue Fuel could naturally improve this footprint even more.

Besides that fact that Blue Fuel could quickly enhance environmental performance in factories where propane-powered forklifts are used, the other idea to take away from the stories above is that Blue Fuel has a wide range of applications with some of them – forklifts, for example – not immediately obvious, but nonetheless important.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Växjö: Europe's greenest city

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Located in southern Sweden and with a population of about 80,000, Växjö bills itself as The Greenest City in Europe. Inspired by the Agenda 21 document signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Växjö adopted its first environmental policy in 1993, which was superseded in 1999 by The Environmental Programme for the City of Växjö. The Environmental Programme has three profile areas, each with its own guiding vision:

LIVING LIFE: “In Växjö, we have the vision that we will live and act so as to contribute to sustainable development where our consumption and production are resource-effective and pollution free.”

OUR NATURE: “ We have the vision that clean water, fresh air and a diverse natural and cultural environment, with a rich biological diversity will characterize the town, and the urban and rural areas of the municipality.”

FOSSIL FUEL FREE VAXJO: “We have the vision of a fossil fuel free Växjö, where our energy consumption does not lead to any climate change.”

The profile area most germane to Blue Fuel/DME, of course, is “Fossil Fuel Free Växjö”. The city first adopted this concept in 1996 and has kept it as a key component of its current Environmental Programme. The goal is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide 50% by 2010 and 70% by 2025 over 1993 levels. As of 2007, the city had been successful in reducing emissions by 32%. The majority of those reductions were due to the use of biomass for heating, with almost 90% of the heating fuel coming from renewable energy sources.

The transportation sector is the source of most of the remaining emissions. One strategy for reducing transportation emissions is to develop a large-scale bio-DME production plant to provide a carbon-neutral vehicle fuel. In 2003 Växjö University established a center for biomass gasification and the city is currently participating in the Bio-DME Project, which for 2009 includes construction of a DME filling station to perfect DME infrastructure and ongoing testing of a small fleet of DME vehicles.

In 2007 Växjö received the Sustainable Energy Europe Award in recognition of its environmental efforts. This small Swedish city is a great role model that deserves to be emulated throughout the world. For more information about this innovative city, please check out its website.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Korea's "Green Growth Strategy" includes DME in long-term plans

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: As outlined in a series of articles in the Korea Herald, South Korea's leading English-language newspaper, the South Korean government has a "Green Growth Strategy" which includes what it calls, "second-generation technologies," that will take waste and transform it into value-added energy carriers such as hydrogen, natural gas, diesel, methanol, ethanol, and DME.

These second generation technologies would be used in various areas other than power plant and boiler fuel applications, which would be targeted for first-generation waste-to-energy technologies such as the direct use of solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels to generate electricity.

Although it is good news that the Korean government is including DME in its energy plans, the timetable as outlined in this article by Kim Seong-soo, principal researcher of the Wastes Energy Research Center at the Korea Institute of Energy Research, is less promising. According to Kim, second-generation technologies will not enter the energy market in Korea until sometime after 2020.

Kim suggests that one major reason for this slow pace is "the lack of corporate participation in R&D." As a solution to this problem, Kim suggests that Korean R&D should "aim to build demonstration or commercialization plants rather than develop basic technologies..." and "the Korean central and local governments should participate in R&D from the beginning...."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Scientific innovation is key to powering the future

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: With the planet facing the double threat of global climate change brought on by greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of the world's petroleum reserves, humankind has some choices to make. We can carry on as present and face both an energy crisis and a climatic crisis in the near future, we can drastically slow our consumption of energy thereby staving off these twin calamities but hobbling what we call modern civilization, or we can innovate to develop technologies that will both solve the threats we face and advance civilization.

Most people would agree that the choice to innovate and advance civilization is the most desirable, and it is always fascinating to see how innovation manifests itself. While the general population might consider the development of Blue Fuel/DME as an alternative fuel innovative in its own right, two recent announcements regarding innovations in the production of alternative fuels go a step further.

The first idea comes from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore where scientists have demonstrated a method of converting CO2 into methanol via a non-toxic room-temperature process. In a media release they explain that "IBN scientists have made carbon dioxide react by using N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), a novel organocatalyst. ...Hydrosaline, a combination of silica and hydrogen, is added to the NHC-activated carbon dioxide, and the product of this reaction is transformed into methanol by adding water through hydrolysis." Research is continuing to make the process even more cost-effective.

The second idea comes from scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Their article, "Concentrating-Solar Biomass Gasification Process for a 3rd Generation Biofuel," was published in the online journal Environmental Science and Technology. The abstract states: "A new concept of producing synfuel from biomass using concentrated solar energy as its main energy source is proposed in this paper. The aim of the concept is to obtain an easy-to-handle fuel with near-zero CO2 emissions and reduced land-use requirements compared to first- and second-generation biofuels. The concept's key feature is the use of high-temperature heat from a solar concentrating tower to drive the chemical process of converting biomass to a biofuel, obtaining a near-complete utilization of carbon atoms in the biomass." An excellent synopsis of the paper can be found on the Green Car Congress website.

These are only two ideas, but they are representative of the widespread effort being put forth to develop innovative technologies to tackle some of the challenges facing the world today.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

California introduces low carbon fuel standards

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: California has made a significant move to help reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The Air Resources Board (ARB) has adopted a regulation that will implement the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The goal of the new regulation is to reduce GHG emissions from transportation by 10% by 2020 and to stimulate the use of alternative fuels.

The following excerpt illustrates the breadth of this regulation: "The LCFS applies to all fuels (with the exception of alternative fuels—other than biofuels—provided by an exempted regulated party for transportation use at an aggregated volume of less than 420 million MJ (3.6 million gasoline gallon equivalent) per year):
  • California reformulated gasoline (CARFG)
  • California ultra low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD)
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG)
  • Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Electricity
  • Compressed or liquefied hydrogen
  • A fuel blend containing ethanol
  • A fuel blend containing biomass-based diesel
  • Pure denatured ethanol (E100)
  • Pure biomass-based diesel (B100)
  • Any other liquid or non-liquid fuel."

It appears that, except in small volumes, Blue Fuel would fit into the final category.

According to the ARB's press release: "The regulation requires providers, refiners, importers and blenders to ensure that the fuels they provide for the California market meet an average declining standard of 'carbon intensity'. This is established by determining the sum of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation and consumption of a fuel, also referred to as the fuel pathway."

Opposition to the new regulation has been ongoing but has intensified with its passage. From tar sands producers to biofuel developers, not only is there concern about the carbon intensity of their fuels, there is also worry that the science behind measuring the fuel pathway is still unproven and could result in certain fuels being unfairly penalized. Nonetheless, California is a large and influential market and the producers of all types of fuels—including producers of DME using conventional methods—cannot afford to ignore this further indication of the approach of the low carbon future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blue Fuel Energy seeks government mandating of Blue Fuel/propane blending

BLUE FUEL ENERGY.COM: Blue Fuel Energy has submitted a brief to Natural Resources Canada requesting that the Government of Canada mandate the blending of Blue Fuel and propane for the purpose of establishing a market in Canada for Blue Fuel. The brief is below:

Active Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

Canada has the potential to become the world leader in the carbon-neutral production of DME (dimethyl ether). DME is an ultra-clean burning, environmentally benign alternative fuel that is a substitute for diesel and natural gas and a substitute and blendstock for propane. Easy to handle and transport, DME can be used for transportation, power generation, and heating and cooking.

Most jurisdictions in the world that produce DME use fossil fuel reactants such as natural gas and coal as feedstocks. Carbon-neutral DME can be produced from biomass, as it is in Sweden in the BioDME project, or from renewable energy (hydro, wind, geothermal, etc.), water, and waste carbon dioxide (captured from flue gas emissions of fossil fuel processing plants, such as natural gas processing plants, fossil fuel-based electricity generators, and potentially from tar sands upgrading processes, etc.).

Western Canada has an abundance of feedstocks for producing carbon-neutral DME, including near-pure streams of carbon dioxide that are presently being emitted into the atmosphere. This contributes to global warming and wastes the carbon dioxide, a valuable resource. The Passive Sequestration of carbon dioxide into geological formations or oil fields perpetuates the wasting of this resource. It is also expensive, both in terms of energy and dollars—and experimental. Further, if these Passive Sequestration experiments fail, the consequences could be most unfortunate.

Active Sequestration—the recycling of carbon dioxide for the production of commercial products—represents an immediate solution to the carbon dioxide emissions problem that looms over key sectors of the Canadian economy. The natural gas industry, for example, is fully apprised of the limits of Passive Sequestration in western Canada and knows that if alternative solutions do not emerge, efforts to increase production will be compromised. The production of DME with renewables and waste carbon dioxide would be highly beneficial to the natural gas industry. Further, because DME is a superb energy carrier, its adoption would buttress the renewables sector by making it possible to efficiently transmit large amounts of energy from remote wind farms or hydroelectric power generation facilities, for example, to load centres—without large-scale expansion of the grid and other infrastructure. The economic benefits of the Active Sequestration of carbon dioxide in western Canada would have profound environmental and economic benefits for the whole country.

Creation of a domestic market for DME is essential if its potential is to be realized in Canada. The Government of Canada must accelerate the development of this market by mandating that propane used in the country be blended with DME. Such a policy would be comparable to the very successful programs in Canada and the United States mandating the blending of gasoline with ethanol.

Mandating the blending of propane with DME is the most expeditious route to establishing a Canadian market for DME because no modifications to equipment for home cooking and heating or to distribution networks are required for blends containing up to 20% DME. Extensive and decades-long research into all aspects of DME’s use, handling and delivery when blended with propane have demonstrated such blends to be a safe and reliable way to utilize it. Further, blending results in an insignificant price increase for consumers.

China is by far the largest producer of DME in the world today, with over 20 large-scale producers. Production in China has grown exponentially in recent years, with capacity in 2010 estimated at 6 million tons, and in 2020 at 20 million tons. More than 90% of the DME produced in China is blended with propane and used for heating and cooking. Government support in China for the blending of propane with DME has resulted in a broad production base and put China in a position to start using DME as a transportation fuel, its ultimate application that greatly increases energy security, enhances air quality, and reduces GHG emissions.

In 2007 Canada produced about 11.4 million cubic metres of propane, about 4.9 million cubic metres of which was consumed in the country. Blend ratios of propane to DME could range from 80-20% down to 95-5%. Blending 4.9 million cubic metres of propane with DME at a 90-10% ratio would require 0.5 million cubic meters of DME per year, the production of one world-scale DME plant.

1. International Dimethyl Ether Association
2. BioDME Project
3. Statistics Canada, Energy Statistics Handbook, Second quarter 2008

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Federal advisory agency urges Canadian government to adopt cap-and-trade system

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM:The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) has just published a report, Achieving 2050: A Carbon Pricing Policy for Canada, recommending that the federal government implement a unified carbon pricing policy across the country as a means of achieving Canada's medium- and long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Canada has pledged to reduce emissions to 20% below 2006 levels by 2020 and to 65% below 2006 levels by 2050.

“The Round Table’s report concludes that a unified national carbon price through an economy-wide cap-and-trade system across all jurisdictions, emissions, and sectors is necessary to allow Canada to reach its emission reductions targets at the least economic cost,” said NRTEE Chair Bob Page. The report acknowledges the challenges Canada faces in transforming its economy for a low-carbon future, yet provides a realistic framework within which the economy can evolve. Part of this framework entails dove-tailing Canada's cap-and-trade system with those of other countries, particularly the United States, which is planning to implement a cap-and-trade system by 2012.

DME is an emerging fuel and the current emphasis in the industry is on developing international standards, conducting long-term durability tests with DME vehicles, fine-tuning distribution infrastructure, raising awareness, and establishing markets. What the NRTEE report underscores, however, is that for the full potential of DME to be realized in a low-carbon world, the industry must also focus on reducing its carbon footprint. It could do this by exploring opportunities to:
1) Incorporate renewables such as wind, hydro, and geothermal into fossil fuel-based production processes (as explained by Professor Weidou Ni of TsingJua University in Beijing in his presentation How to Make the Production of DME More "Green";
2) Use biomass to produce DME, as the BioDME projects promotes
3) Use renewables, water, and waste carbon dioxide to produce DME, as Blue Fuel Energy promotes

Failure of DME producers to minimize DME's carbon footprint compromises the potential of this multi-purpose fuel to be adopted in jurisdictions with stringent GHG emissions—and the ability of producers to take advantage of the green credits that will accrue to producers of carbon-neutral energy. Sooner rather than later there is going to be an international price on carbon emissions and it behooves DME producers to develop strategies to put themselves in a position where they have a competitive advantage over other fuels in the drive to mitigate climate change.