The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Oberon Fuel’s biogas-based dimethyl ether as meeting the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, helping clear the way for it to be an alternative fuel for trucking.
The agency 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, according to the company. Oberon says it was the first company to announce plans to commercialize biogas-based DME.
Oberon says the transportation industry, particularly the heavy-duty sector, now has another option under the RFS for a domestically produced, renewable fuel.
“Our customers are engaged in heavy-duty applications and need the power and torque of a diesel engine,” said Susan Alt, Volvo Group North America’s senior vice president of public affairs. “Oberon’s DME offers that power without the need for the cryogenics or high compression associated with other diesel alternatives. We look forward to continuing our work with Oberon to demonstrate the benefits of this clean-burning, non-toxic diesel alternative for the heavy truck industry.”
The EPA’s approval of biogas-based DME is the latest milestone for the growing DME industry. In February 2014, ASTM International, a globally recognized organization that develops technical standards, released a specification for DME as a fuel, providing guidance for fuel producers, engine and component suppliers, and infrastructure developers on DME purity, testing, safety, and handling.
In 2013, Oberon Fuels’ pilot plant in Brawley, California, produced the first fuel-grade DME in North America, which is currently being used by Volvo Trucks in its commercial demonstrations of DME-powered, heavy-duty trucks.
Read more about the collaboration between Oberon and Volvo Trucks in a story from last year.