Dimethyl Ether (DME) Market Poised to Enjoy Support of Government and Industry Alike
Dimethyl ether, also referred to as DME, is a gas that offers clean combustion and can be easily liquefied for transportation or storage. DME is a downstream derivative of wood alcohol/methanol, and it can be recovered from natural gas, bio-based feedstock, as well as fossilized fuel resources. Currently, the innovative and cost-competitive advantages offered by DME have caught the attention of several policymakers and governments worldwide. This is one of the key aspects propelling the growth of the global dimethyl ether (DME) market.
Supported by all of these favorable market scenarios, the global and China DME market was pegged at US$ 4.46 billion in 2013, and will expand at a very high single-digit CAGR of 9.4% to reach US$ 8.37 billion by 2020.
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DME-blended LPG to See Appreciable Demand Over Next Few Years
DME as an alternative to conventional fuels holds immense potential in a number of applications. One of the most important uses of DME is its use as a blending chemical in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The composition of DME and LPG shares several similarities, which makes it possible to easily blend the two in equal proportions without the resultant fuel having drastically different properties. This unique attribute also makes DME-blended LPG suited for use in a wide variety of equipment and machinery. This application is especially crucial in the China market because the country is the highest consumer of LPG in the world.
The other applications which will show an upward growth graph, albeit not as steep as LPG blending are: Transportation fuel, aerosol propellants, industrial applications, and others. The use of DME as an aerosol propellant will also remain significant over the next few years. This scenario is poised to change slightly in the near future with the use of DME as transportation fuel gaining traction. This change will be aggressively driven by the strong emphasis on clean fuel and low emissions.
DME as Diesel Alternative Could Lack Much Needed Launch Pad
The use of DME as an alternative to diesel could fail to take off because the former’s viscosity and lubricity is lower than that of diesel. This means that unless there is a technological breakthrough, seamlessly replacing diesel with DME will not be a commercial reality in the near future. At the same time, governments are yet to entirely embrace DME-blended LPG, especially in major markets such as China. This aspect could further restrain growth.
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China Leads Asia Pacific Region to Predominance in Global DME Market
In 2013, Asia Pacific was seen to be the largest market in the global DME market. APAC’s leading position can be attributed to the sizeable demand for DME from China – one of the largest LPG consumers in the world. China was the single largest consumer of DME not just in Asia Pacific, but in the world. The Europe DME market scored a close second to Asia Pacific, and North America was the third-largest market for DME globally. While China’s dominance in the global DME market will continue over the next few years, the Rest of the World Region is expected to register an impressive growth rate to 2020.
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