20 Apr 2023

Steve Hallett: Reflections from Tokyo

Steve Hallett, Operations Director at Dimeta, reflects on innovations and outcomes for Renewable & Recycled Carbon DME following the WLPGA Innovation Summit in Tokyo. 

In March, I was honoured to be invited to attend the World LPG Association (WLPGA) Innovation Summit in Tokyo, where I was able to present an update on the WLPGA’s technical and safety DME activity and chair a workshop with the objective of gathering learnings from previous testing and trials with the fuel. 
With over 100 participants from all over the globe, the event brought together experts delivering innovative solutions for the industry, from more efficient systems or appliances to the growth of sustainable fuels such as renewable LPG or DME. 
The most prominent reflection for me is just how extensive a history of DME there is in Japan. There is a huge depth of understanding; fundamental production pathway thermodynamics and economics, catalysis, and applications. There is already great collaboration taking place globally, but there is always room to strengthen this further – following the positive discussions in Japan, I am sure this will be the case as we head into the second half of 2023. 
LPG in Japan is hailed for its’ versatility, transportability and availability; two characteristics that make it indispensable in times of natural disaster, as such there were some great innovations in applications on display. Combined heat and power is a strong interest given the use of a single fuel to meet both energy demands; and some of the combined efficiencies of these devices were staggering. Backed up by Dimeta’s trip to Rinnai’s R&D facility in Nagoya, it was clear that the potential to concurrently decarbonise and reduce energy consumption is possible. 
During our trip to Rinnai’s facilities, we saw their hydrogen-fuelled boiler. We saw the lengths that Rinnai went to test and verify their products’ performance. Hydrogen certainly presented significant challenges in development due to its low flame luminosity and radiant heat, let alone its ability to flashback, requiring complicated heat exchanger and gas control designs (incidentally, all challenges that don’t exist with DME fuel). But alas, in front of me sat a production-ready, net zero-compatible consumer product. This is a testament to the world-class engineers who work at Rinnai and the Japanese appliance sector as a whole. 
As I left Tokyo,  I was reminded of how much the LPG Industry needs to collaborate to cross-fertilise ideas and expertise as we attempt to rise to our biggest challenge to date; decarbonisation. Within this challenge, there are huge opportunities to leverage experience and knowledge from every sector in order to find a fair and just energy balance for every customer. I’m reminded that there is no silver bullet and that solutions will take many forms. I have no doubt DME will play an exciting role in the future of the LPG Industry, and I am excited to be a small part of this journey. 
Stephen Hallett

Stephen Hallett

Operations Director

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