NAIT applied research partnership will develop diesel fuel alternative for use in long-haul trucks

Published on November 09, 2017

The project could see cleaner-burning dimethyl ether (DME) fuel transport trucks on the Edmonton-Calgary corridor.

EDMONTON – New technology that will allow long-haul trucks to burn low-carbon fuel in all weather is under development at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). The partnership between the polytechnic, Mack Trucks, Oberon Fuels and Westcan Bulk Transport is being funded with $368,000 from the Government of Alberta – Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Researchers in the School of Applied Sciences and Technology at NAIT will work to develop fuel moisture management technology for dimethyl ether (DME), a cleaner-burning, diesel fuel alternative that can be made from natural gas or methanol produced from biomass feedstock, such as wood chips. The technology will remove any residual water from the DME before injection into the engine, eliminating the risks of corrosion and reduced performance.

The researchers hope to test the technology using Mack trucks from Westcan’s fleet, travelling Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary.


  • DME burns cleaner than diesel in long-haul trucks
  • DME can be produced from natural gas, providing another value-added product from Alberta’s resources
  • The global DME market is expected to grow to $13.1 billion by 2020


Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT President and CEO
“As a leading polytechnic, NAIT supports applied research and technology-based education in areas critical to Alberta – a primary focus being the energy sector. Alberta, and the world, are moving toward a low-carbon future. Support from the Government of Alberta allows NAIT to work in partnership with industry to create this future.”

Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade
“NAIT’s researchers are making our province proud – attracting international attention and investment. That’s why we’re helping them create new products based on Alberta discoveries that mean a healthier environment for people across the continent – and new jobs and a more diversified economy here at home.”

Dr. Rebecca Boudreaux, President, Oberon Fuels
“Oberon’s efforts to develop a new global transportation fuel have been accelerated by the support and participation of such forward-looking companies who are committed to sustainable transportation. Alberta is leading the way by investing in DME, one of the few truly carbon-negative fuels available, and the only one that can deliver the power needed for heavy-duty applications.”

Rob Durling, principal engineer, Mack Trucks
“We are pleased to participate in this project with NAIT and look forward to the insights it will provide.”


DME basics

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

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