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Australia, India to develop alternate clean fuel
Monday October 14, 2013 11:44 PM, IANS

India and Australia could solve energy shortage problems and reduce reliance on imported fuels through a research partnership, a statement from an Australian national science body said Thursday.

In addition to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Indian Institute of Petroleum, the project will also draw the expertise of the Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, the Center of Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry and the University of Melbourne, reports Xinhua.

The three-year project is being jointly funded by the Indian and Australian governments through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

The widespread introduction of dimethyl ether (DME), a clean-burning synthetic fuel, is a step closer following the announcement of a $6 million partnership between CSIRO and India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the statement said.

The project will focus on improving processes involved in the production of DME, a liquid fuel produced from natural gas, coal and biomass, or even directly from carbon dioxide.

Both Australia and India are currently unable to meet demand for petroleum products with domestic production alone. DME could help and reduce reliance on imports.

According to CSIRO's Nick Burke, "there are over half a million vehicles currently using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Australia - all of which could be powered using DME. The fact that DME can be used as a blend in existing LPG engines makes it an effective transitional fuel".

In addition to the economic benefits, DME will also provide significant environmental benefits for both countries, Paul Webley of the University of Melbourne said.

"DME produces significantly less pollution than conventional fuels and will therefore reduce urban pollution," Webley added.

The research will also assist in the development of small plants that may be suitable in remote and rural areas.

"More efficient processing of gas into transportable fuels at remote locations would make Australia and India's remote gas reserves more economically viable," said Suresh Bhargava of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

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