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Oberon Biogas DME Gets RFS Approval

September 8, 2014 in Alternative Fuels, DME by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Firm’s Dimethyl Ether to be Eligible for Cellulosic-Equivalent RINs

Southern California’s Oberon Fuels has received U.S. EPA approval of its biogas-based dimethyl ether as a RIN-eligible product under RFS-2, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

Oberon believes that the relative simplicity of DME will lead to success in the marketplace.

Oberon believes that the relative simplicity of DME will lead to success in the marketplace.

“The EPA determined that biogas-based DME produced from the Oberon process resulted in an approximate 68% reduction in greenhouse gases when compared to baseline diesel fuel,” Oberon says.

The firm is talking up DME as “another option under the RFS for a domestically produced, renewable fuel.”

Next Year for Biogas Feedstock

Oberon is currently making DME for test vehicles on an as-needed basis using methanol, but according to company president Rebecca Boudreaux has completed the front-end engineering that will allow that methanol to be made from biogas with resultant DME as part of a single process – to be available on modular skids for local production.

“We’re targeting next year,” she told F&F.

The ingredient biogas requires no costly purging of carbon dioxide as the carbon dioxide is in fact desirable for DME production.

‘A Simple Fuel’

“One of the exciting attributes of DME is that, at its core, DME is a simple fuel,” Oberon co-founder and COO Elliot Hicks said in a release. “It requires a simple diesel engine and has simple propane-like handling properties” – no costly high-pressure or cryogenic fuel tanks are necessary for DME-fueled vehicles.

Volvo VNL 300 series daycab with D13 engine modified for DME was test driven by reporters at the McClellan Business Park outside Sacramento on Thursday. Martin Transport of Kilgore, Texas has been testing dimethyl ether since February. Martin Resource Manager is an Oberon Fuels investor.

Volvo VNL 300 series daycab with D13 engine modified for DME. Martin Transport of Kilgore, Texas has been testing dimethyl ether since February of last year.

“Based on our assessment, renewable DME produced using biogas from landfills, municipal wastewater treatment facility digesters, agricultural digesters, and separated MSW digesters, and biogas produced in other digesters through the Oberon pathways qualifies under the Clean Air Act for cellulosic biofuel (D-code 3) RINs,” EPA’s Christopher Grundler, director of OTAQ, the agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told Oberon last month.

Volvo Has Embraced DME

The approval “applies specifically to Oberon Fuels,” Grundler said.

Oberon notes that the EPA’s approval of biogas-based DME is “the latest milestone for the growing DME industry,” as ASTM International released a DME fuel specification, ASTM D7901, this past February (F&F, February 10).

Martin Transport in Texas is evaluating DME, and trials of the fuel by Safeway in California are expected to go forward soon with the support of Valley Air, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Both involve trucks manufactured by Volvo, which has embraced DME as part of its multiple-fuel strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (F&F, June 11, 2013).

U.S. EPA’s DME approval (scroll down)


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Source: Oberon Fuels with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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