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Trading firm Itochu Corp., steelmaker JFE Holdings Inc. and eight other entities have developed a clean-air alternative to diesel-engine trucks by using fuel produced from natural gas.

The 8-ton truck can travel up to 600 km when its two tanks are filled with dimethyl ether. The fuel is considered a promising alternative to diesel oil as it produces no sulfur oxide or soot, which pollutes the air.

The companies plan to test the truck by having it travel 400 km from Yokohama to Niigata, as well as from Niigata to Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, in the near future.

They have already set up dimethyl ether filling stations in Tsukuba and Yokohama, and will establish additional stations in Niigata and Kawasaki later this year.

The eight other entities include parcel transportation service provider Fukuyama Transporting Co. and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, an independent administrative institution operating under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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