Oberon Fuels secures grant for production of renewable dimethyl ether

Clean transportation fuel producer Oberon Fuels has received a grant for almost $2.9 million (approximately €2.5 million) from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for a project to produce the first renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) fuel in the US.

The multi-phase project, which Oberon has touted as the first of its kind, will realise decarbonisation benefits of rDME, an ‘economic fuel and key step in the development of a California-based, renewable hydrogen (rH2) pathway to zero-emission mobility’, according to the company.

“With this grant, we plan to demonstrate rDME can reduce greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants, replace diesel fuel, maintain performance in existing engines and provide air quality and economic benefits to rural communities such as those located within Imperial Valley,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, president of Oberon Fuels. “We thank the California Energy Commission for its support and look forward to a successful project.”

Oberon plans to upgrade its existing DME pilot facility to demonstration scale to facilitate the first production of this renewable fuel in the US.

“This project will simultaneously address two pressing problems afflicting Imperial Valley by reducing climate change impacts and creating badly-needed jobs,” said Assembly member Eduardo Garcia (D-AD 56). “I am thrilled that Oberon Fuels will be demonstrating this new technology in the 56th District, and I look forward to their long-term success and towards making the region a centrepiece for clean fuels.”

As well as scaling up the plant and testing new feedstocks, Oberon’s project will test modified diesel trucks fuelled by rDME in the Imperial Valley and other locations in southern California.

The company will also assess the feasibility of converting renewable methanol into rDME and developing associated fuelling infrastructure, alongside commercial partners.

“Renewable DME provides an elegant solution to not only the state’s dairy methane challenges but also offers a pathway to zero-emissions for the state’s transportation sector,” added Elliot Hicks, COO and co-founder of Oberon Fuels.

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