Many investigations are currently carried out in order to reduce CO2 emissions in power generation. Among alternative fuels to natural gas and gasoil in gas turbine applications, dimethyl ether (DME; formula: CH3-O-CH3) represents a possible candidate in the next years. This chemical compound can be produced from natural gas or coal/biomass gasification. DME is a good substitute for gasoil in diesel engine. Its Lower Heating Value is close to that of ethanol but it offers some advantages compared to alcohols in terms of stability and miscibility with hydrocarbons. While numerous studies have been devoted to the combustion of DME in diesel engines, results are scarce as far as boilers and gas turbines are concerned. Some safety aspects must be addressed before feeding a combustion device with DME because of its low flash point (as low as −83°C), its low auto-ignition temperature and large domain of explosivity in air. As far as emissions are concerned, the existing literature shows that in non premixed flames, DME produces less NOx than ethane taken as parent molecular structure, based on an equivalent heat input to the burner. During a field test performed in a gas turbine, a change-over from methane to DME led to a higher fuel nozzle temperature but to a lower exhaust gas temperature. NOx emissions decreased over the whole range of heat input studied but a dramatic increase of CO emissions was observed. This work aims to study the combustion behavior of DME in gas turbine conditions with the help of a detailed kinetic modeling. Several important combustion parameters, such as the auto-ignition temperature (AIT), ignition delay times, laminar burning velocities of premixed flames, adiabatic flame temperatures, and the formation of pollutants like CO and NOx have been investigated. These data have been compared with those calculated in the case of methane combustion. The model was built starting from a well validated mechanism taken from the literature and already used to predict the behavior of other alternative fuels. In flame conditions, DME forms formaldehyde as the major intermediate, the consumption of which leads in few steps to CO then CO2. The lower amount of CH2 radicals in comparison with methane flames seems to decrease the possibility of prompt-NO formation. This paper covers the low temperature oxidation chemistry of DME which is necessary to properly predict ignition temperatures and auto-ignition delay times that are important parameters for safety.

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