San Diego-based Oberon Fuels Inc., which produces fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME), has announced that DME is now approved for use as a vehicle fuel in the state of California. The company says this latest approval builds on earlier ones and will help accelerate commercial adoption of the alternative fuel.
‘The use of fuels like DME will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and lead to a positive impact on California and the environment,’ says Kristin Macey, a director at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which issued the latest approval of DME fuel.
According to Oberon, DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel produced from a variety of feedstocks, including biogas and natural gas.
Oberon says the California's legalization of DME for use as a vehicle fuel is the latest milestone for the growing DME industry. Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board published its Multimedia Assessment Tier 1 report on DME, which evaluates publicly available data on the effect of DME on air, soil and water.
Last August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Oberon's biogas-based DME for inclusion under the Renewable Fuel Standard and made it eligible for Renewable Identification Numbers credits.
In February 2014, ASTM International, an organization that develops technical standards, released a specification for DME as a fuel. ASTM D7901 provides guidance for fuel producers, engine and component suppliers, and infrastructure developers on DME purity, testing, safety and handling.
‘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,” says Rebecca Boudreaux, president of Oberon Fuels.
Volvo Trucks has been among the early proponents of DME use in Class 8 trucking, having partnered with Oberon and Safeway Inc. on the pilot testing of DME in regular fleet operations.
‘This certification is a major step forward in developing the market for DME, especially for California-based heavy-duty fleets,’ comments Susan Alt, Volvo Group North America's senior vice president of public affairs.
‘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,’ Alt continues. ‘Each certification increases their confidence that the fuel is good for trucks and the environment.’