BASF and the Chinese chemical maker Sichuan Lutianhua have agreed to codevelop a pilot plant to test a new process for making dimethyl ether (DME) directly from synthesis gas. Linde designed the process, BASF developed a catalyst for it, and Sichuan Lutianhua will build the pilot plant next year. DME is a substitute for diesel and is also an intermediate in the methanol-to-olefin process common in China. DME is customarily made via the dehydration of methanol, itself derived from synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. BASF says the new one-step DME process uses less energy and emits less greenhouse gas than the conventional route. The partners say their collaboration was facilitated by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation’s open innovation platform. BASF recently said it is developing another process, also in collaboration with Linde, for making methanol without producing greenhouse gases.