Special Report: New Alternative Fuel for the Future Part 1


Fossil fuels are diminishing day by day while their prices are skyrocketing. The world hence is looking for new types of alternative energy in order to meet the rising energy demand caused by the growing economy and the production sector. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) is introducing five alternative fuels for the future. 

According to DEDE Deputy Director-General Dr Twarath Sutabutr, unrest in the Middle Eastern and North African countries, which are major oil exporters, has been driving oil prices up; while the recent twin deadly disasters in Japan have also caused volatility in global oil prices. Those events will likely have long-term serious consequences for the global economy, including that of Thailand. The Ministry of Energy has been monitoring five kinds of alternative energy and has intended to conduct serious studies very soon on their wide range of use in Thailand as follows.

The first one is Gas to Liquid (GTL), which is to transform natural gas into liquid fuel by turning the complex component of natural gas into large molecules of hydrocarbon compound. The second type, which also involves the GTL technology, is Coal to Liquid (CTL), which is to transform coal into synthetic gas via various processes turning the gas into liquid fuel oil as well.

Dimethyl ether (DME) is the third kind. It is an ether compound which can be used as fuel in place of diesel or cooking gas because its Cetane, a measurement of the combustion quality, is as high as 55-60. DME can be produced from various kinds of sources such as natural gas and coal. The fourth type is hydrogen fuel, given a kilogram of hydrogen can give thermal power equal to that given by a gallon of benzene; in addition, DME has 2-3 times higher internal combustion efficiency than benzene.

The first four kinds of alternative energy are mostly attempts to produce liquid fuel from other sources of energy such as coal and gas. The last type of alternative energy as well as other efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels and go for greener options will be discussed in the second part of this special report.