An environmentally-friendly compound that is used as a propellant in about 10 billion aerosol spray cans each year could become a significant source of energy in the decades to come, according to a report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA).The new fuel, Dimethyl-ether (DME), was the subject of a workshop hosted by the International Energy Agency last Friday.

The workshop, hosted by the International Energy Agency, was attended by more than 30 experts from major oil and energy companies, vehicle and fuel injection system manufacturers, the research community and Board members of the newly established International DME Association (IDA).

DME is a clean and safe fuel that can be made from natural gas, coal or biomass. In addition to its applications in power generation, domestic fuel use and diesel engines, DME has a potential use in fuel cells. It is environmentally benign and can be handled like LPG.

Workshop participants reportedly discussed DME production, notably BP’s large-scale DME project for India and Atrax Energi’s production of DME from bio-sources in Sweden. They also examined DME applications in the transportation sector, and some technical aspects of its use.

The IEA believes that DME offers a great potential as a multi-source, multi-application fuel and expects it to achieve recognition as an alternative to conventional fuels.