Continued Progress Toward Dimethyl Ether Commercialization
San Diego-based Oberon Fuels has won California approval of dimethyl ether as a vehicle fuel, continuing the march toward commercialization. DME handles like propane, works in modified diesel engines (maintaining the efficient compression ignition cycle), and can be made from biogas with no need to process out the carbon dioxide.
The approval of DME was issued by the Division of Measurement Standards at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “The use of fuels like DME will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve air quality and lead to a positive impact on California and the environment,” director Kristin Macey says in an Oberon release.
“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,” Oberon Fuels president Rebecca Boudreaux said in yesterday’s announcement.
“These approvals are a key step in increasing confidence among distributors, engine manufacturers and fleet owners that DME is ready for commercial markets, which will benefit Oberon as we build out a global supply of DME fuel,” she said.
Oberon is working with Volvo to commercialize DME. Volvo Truck operator Martin Transport is an early supporter, operating several vehicle in Texas (F&F, June 11, 2013).
‘Volvo Trucks is Continuing to Invest’
“Volvo Trucks is continuing to invest in DME because it delivers diesel-like performance with propane-like handling and will provide a faster ROI for truck customers than other alternative fuels,” senior public affairs VP Susan Alt says in the Oberon announcement.
“Each certification increases their confidence that the fuel is good for trucks and the environment,” she said.
Trials with Safeway in California are pending, with two Volvo trucks expected to be deployed in the San Joaquin Valley. “We’ve been working on the infrastructure piece,” Boudreaux told F&F today.
A DME Dispenser by Parafour
She noted that Georgetown, Texas-based Parafour Innovations, which specializes in propane autogas delivery systems, is developing a dispenser for DME. Like the firm’s propane equipment it is NTEP-certified and ETL-listed to UL-495.
The California approval follows eligibility granted late this past summer under RFS-2, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (F&F, September 8), and the issuance of ASTM D7901 standard for DME listing early last year (F&F, February 10, 2014).
Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board published a Multimedia Assessment Tier 1 report on DME, prepared by the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Berkeley, which evaluates publicly available data on the effect of DME on air, soil, and water. (direct PDF link to CARB report).
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Source: Oberon Fuels with Fleets & Fuels follow-up