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Dimethyl ether

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Dimethyl ether
Systematic name Dimethyl ether
Other names

Methyl ether

Molecular formula C2H6O
Molar mass Molar mass::46.068 g/mol
Appearance Colorless Gas
CAS number CAS number::115-10-6 [1]
Density and phase [[Density::1.97 kg/m3]], Gas
Solubility in water 1.013 bar (20°C)
Melting point Melting point::-141.5°C
Boiling point Boiling point::-24.8°C[2]
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazards flammable
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point -41.15°C [3]
R/S statement R: 12
S: 9-16-33
RTECS number PM4780000[4]
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Dimethyl ether is known by a few different names including methoxymethane, dimethyl oxide, and for short it's abbreviated DME. DME has many different properties which makes it unique. These include its high flammability, higher density than air, and its high flash point. These characteristics allow for Dimethyl ether to be used in a variety of different ways. These include a substitute fuel for diesel engines, use in aerosol containers and also to prepare other important chemicals for use. One of the greatest benefits of Dimethyl ether is its ability to produce clean fuel.


Dimethyl ether is a gas at room temperature. It has the gram-molecular mass of 46.068. The melting point of dimethyl ether is -141.5oC. The boiling point is -24.8oC. At room temperature dimethyl ether does not have a color. Dimethyl ether is highly flammable and it mixes with the oxygen in the air to form explosive peroxides. This compound has a very high fire and explosion risk when exposed to flames, sparks, heat, or strong oxidizers. When a container holding dimethyl ether is exposed to heat or flames the container may explode. Some of the health hazards are blurring of vision, headache and intoxication. When dimethyl ether is in its liquid form it can cause frostbite when in contact with the skin.[4]


The difference between Ethanol and Dimethyl ether.

Dimethyl ether is synthesized in multiple ways. Synthesis of dimethyl ether usually includes a hydrocarbon. Most often the hydrocarbon used is natural gas. The hydrocarbon is then converted into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which is called synthesis gas. The carbon monoxide and hydrogen mixture is then converted to dimethyl ether through a variety of ways. A few of the different ways dimethyl ether is synthesized are steam methane reforming, partial oxidation, autothermal reforming, and combined reforming.[5]


Dimethyl ether has a few different uses including a substitute fuel for diesel trucks. When dimethyl ether is used as a fuel in trucks a few modifications have to be made, a benefit however is that it is not harmful to the environment like diesel fuel is. The main modification needed to have a truck run with dimethyl ether is a pressure tank to keep the substance a liquid.[6] Using dimethyl ether as a fuel is much cleaner than diesel. There are no harmful emissions released into the atmosphere and it works better than diesel. Some of the leading users of dimethyl ether as a fuel source are Japan and Europe. Another use of dimethyl ether is the powering of medium-sized power plants. [7] Dimethyl ether is also used as a propellant as a cleaner alternative to chlorofluorocarbons. Although 90% of the United States aerosol industry uses hydrocarbon-based propellants, Dimethyl ether is a cleaner alternative. Some common aerosol products include cologne, antiperspirant, and hair spray. Another use of dimethyl ether is in preparation of important chemicals such as methyl sulfate, which is used in high energy density batteries.[8]


  1. Dimethyl ether - CAS # 115-10-6 ALS Environmental. Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.
  2. Gas Encyclopedia Air Liquid. Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.
  3. Material Safety Data Sheet Dimethyl Ehter Air Gas. Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dimethyl ether Chemical Book. Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.
  5. chemsystems Nexant. Web. Last Modified December 2008. Author Unknown.
  6. Dimethyl ether (DME) Fact Sheet European Biofuels Technology Platform. Web. Last Updated May 2, 2013. Author Unknown.
  7. Dimethyl ether (DME) Total". Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.
  8. Dimethyl Ether Synthesis and Conversion to Value-Added Chemicals Ohio University. Web. accessed May 27, 2013. Author Unknown.