Transport Fuels

California approves Oberon’s fuel-grade DME for use as fuel in the state

Oberon Fuels president Rebecca Boudreaux show how it (will be) done.

U.S.-based Oberon Fuels, Inc. has announced that its fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME) is now approved for use as a fuel in the state of California by the Department of Food and Agriculture.

DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic and inexpensive diesel alternative. Rebecca Boudreaux, president of Oberon Fuels, said, “the State of California’s approval builds upon the growing body of certifications that demonstrate DME is a low carbon fuel that meets both industry standards for performance and environmental standards for compliance.”

Since Oberon first produced fuel-grade DME at its pilot plant in Brawley, Calif. In 2013, it has received approvals from other organizations such as ASTM International, which released a specification for DME in February 2014, ASTM D7901, Standard Specification for Dimethyl Ether for Fuel Purposes.

In August 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved biogas-based DME for inclusion under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), making it eligible for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). The RFS is an EPA program that ensures that a certain amount of biofuel is blended into fossil fuels, and the RINs are used to track the use of the biofuels. The EPA included DME in the RFS program after finding that biogas-based DME achieves a 68% reduction in greenhouse gases.

Earlier in February 2015, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) published its Multimedia Assessment Tier 1 report on DME, leading to the state’s legalisation of its use as a vehicle fuel.

Volvo Trucks, a division of the Volvo Group, is currently using DME. “Volvo trucks is continuing to invest in DME because it delivers diesel-like performance with propane-like handling and will provide a faster [return on investment] for truck customers than other alternative fuels,” said Susan Alt, Volvo Group North America’s senior vice president of public affairs.

Oberon Fuels makes DME from a variety of biogas feedstocks, such as animal and food waste, wastewater treatment, and landfills. It produces 3,000-10,000 gallons per day.

It is the first company in North America to develop DME.

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