Ford says its European research arm is leading an EUR3.5m research project to investigate the use of alternative fuels that offer could offer the potential for extremely low particulate emissions and enhanced fuel efficiency.
The German government is co-funding the three-year project that will test the first-ever cars to run on dimethyl ether (DME), commonly used as a non-toxic propellant in aerosol spray gas, and oxymethylene ether (OME1), a liquid usually used as a solvent in the chemical industry.
Both ethers, which will power cars based on the Ford Mondeo, offer the potential for extremely low particulate emissions and enhanced fuel efficiency. They can be generated from fossil natural gas or bio-gas or through a sophisticated process called power-to-liquid that uses renewable sources such as solar or wind power together with CO2 captured from the air.
Both DME and OME1 produce almost no particulates, and also share characteristics with diesel fuel that Ford says are expected to make conversion of diesel engines possible with comparable performance. It is estimated that DME from renewable energy sources could offer well-to-wheel emissions of about 3 g/km CO2, Ford says.