Dimethyl ether, or DME, is used in different industrial sectors for a number of advantages such as: easy liquefaction, high compatibility with other propellants or good solubility for many substances.

Dimethyl ether is a compound that belongs to the ether group: it is an isomer of ethyl alcohol. It represents the simplest aliphatic ether, it is a colorless gas with a faint ethereal odor, extremely flammable.

It is readily chosen by consumers in different industrial sectors for a number of advantages such as: easy liquefaction, high compatibility with other propellants or good solubility for many substances. It is used for example in the automotive industry, household chemicals and the tanning industry.

Dimethyl ether is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3OCH3. It is produced in the dehydration reaction of methanol or via synthesis from natural gas, coal or biomass.

2 CH3OH —> CH3OCH3 + H2O

Dimethyl ether is a raw material with numerous advantages. The main advantages deriving from the use of DME certainly include the possibility of using different raw materials in its production: if biogas or biomass are used, we obtain a much more ecological product, which respects the principles of green chemistry. Furthermore, dimethyl ether is an easily liquefiable gas. This determines broad directions of its applications (chemical synthesis, fuels, aerosols); furthermore, gas generates relatively low logistics costs. As a motor fuel, it also guarantees high energy efficiency. Furthermore, burning DME emits negligibly low levels of dust and other pollutants.

The use of dimethyl ether in the cosmetics industry is based on its gaseous properties. It is used as a propellant gas in aerosol sprays. It is effectively used by doctors to remove warts with the cryogenic method. As a gas, dimethyl ether can be liquefied under specific conditions; once liquefied it acts as a solvent for numerous substances. It also shows the ability to reduce the viscosity of cosmetic formulations.

The specific properties of dimethyl ether make it an alternative to conventional diesel fuel. DME has good flammability and lower viscosity than diesel fuel. It has no corrosive effect on the metal parts of an engine. Furthermore, only minor modifications are required to convert a Diesel engine to one capable of burning dimethyl ether. As a fuel, it does not emit harmful sulfur oxides or solid particles. Since environmentally friendly feedstocks such as biogas or biomass are used to produce dimethyl ether, DME becomes a biofuel.

The popularity of DME as a propellant drives its use in the production of polyurethane foams for caulking. The propellant and solvent are pumped simultaneously in this process. As a result, the process is shortened and facilitated. Dimethyl ether is also suitable for the production of expanded polystyrene, which is subsequently used to produce polystyrene sheets.

In the leather tanning process, dimethyl ether acts as a solvent. It is used in the tanning of bovine, pig, sheep and goat skins. In particular, it is used in processes that require degreasing and/or drying in one or more solvents. DME is an effective tanning solvent, which improves the ecological safety of the process.

When mixed with ammonia, dimethyl ether is used in refrigeration equipment. When using mixtures of these two compounds (40:60 weight ratio), the refrigeration capacity of a machine increases.


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