Mack Trucks will follow its sister company Volvo and offer a dimethyl ether (DME) tractor to customers, beginning in 2015.

A Mack Pinnacle Axle Back model will be powered by the MP8 engine running on DME, which is a clean-burning alternative fuel. DME produces no soot, eliminating the need for diesel particulate filter, Mack said, and provides up to a 95% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to diesel when it is produced from biomass or biogas.

DME can be made from North America’s plentiful domestic natural gas supply, food waste, animal waste, grass clippings and other sustainable sources, offering the potential to help reduce dependency on foreign oil, the company added.

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

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

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

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

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