The American truck manufacturer has announced its plans to switch from diesel to clean-burning dimethyl ether (DME) to power its heavy vehicles.
DME is a non-toxic, non-cancerogenic fuel that can be manufactured by converting hydrocarbons either from natural gas or coal, or even better - using organic waste or biomass.
Volvo said they have opted for DME as it offers exceptional performance qualities and energy efficiency, similar to that of diesel, while at the same time providing a variety of environmental properties.
Unlike diesel, DME-powered engines don’t produce any soot and, when made from organic waste, can even reduce CO2 emissions by up to 95 per cent. In the North American market, DME is a promising renewable alternative as it can also utilise the regions' abundant reserves of natural gas, which by itself is not that convenient as a heavy truck fuel.
"We are proud to be a leader in providing alternative transportation solutions to the market," said Goran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales and Marketing. "It is clear that DME technology shows great potential for North America and allows Volvo to further its commitment to both, our customers and the environment."
The company plans to introduce its first commercial DME-powered vehicles in 2015. The technology will be available in the Volvo D13 engine - the top-selling heavy-duty engine in the world.
Volvo has a very good track-record of pioneering eco-friendly technologies. In 2007 in Brussels, the company showcased seven commercial vehicles powered by seven different CO2-neutral fuels, one of which was DME. Currently, it offers two engines – Volvo VNM and VLN – that can be adjusted to run on compressed or liquefied natural gas. Next year, the company plans to introduce its own proprietary LNG compression-ignition engine – North America's first fully integrated natural gas solution – in Volvo VNL models.