The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) awarded more than $4 million in funding to test novel applications of dimethyl ether (DME) as a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels. Oberon Fuels, the first company to produce renewable DME (rDME) in the US, is a supporting partner.
The funded projects include:
University of Wisconsin Madison for “Efficiency Mixing Controlled Compression Ignition Combustion of Propane DME Blends”
WM International Engineering L.L.C. in Darrien, Illinois, for a project entitled “High Pressure Fast Response Direct Injection System for Liquified Gas Fuels Use in Light-Duty Engines”
This new round of funding for DME builds on its June 2021 award and is continued validation of renewable DME as an enabling molecule to decarbonize transportation.Oberon Fuels generates value from waste resources, creates family-wage jobs in rural areas, and reduces both pollution and greenhouse gas emissions through our rDME. We are honored to partner with the recipients of DOE awards.
—Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., President and CEO of Oberon Fuels
The funding was provided through the “Low GHG Vehicle Technologies Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment Funding Opportunity Announcement” to research, develop, and validate technologies that use DME to increase the efficiency of direct-injection engines. The partners will use the funding to develop new technologies to deliver efficient engine operations with near-zero emissions.
Renewable DME significantly reduces emissions and carbon intensity when used in place of traditional fuels in three applications:
As a blending agent with liquified petroleum gas (LPG, or propane);
As a diesel replacement in compression ignition engines; and
As an energy-dense, cost-effective means to transport and store renewable hydrogen.
Oberon Fuels has developed proprietary skid-mounted, small-scale production units that convert methane and carbon dioxide to DME from various feedstocks, such as biogas from dairy manure and food waste. This small-scale process circumvents the financial, infrastructure, and permitting challenges that large-scale projects confront. Oberon units have the capacity to produce 10,000 gallons of DME per day to service regional fuel markets.
When produced using the Oberon process, dairy biogas-based rDME has an estimated carbon intensity (CI) value of -278 compared to ultra-low-sulfur diesel which has a CI around 100 gCO2e/MJ, according to calculations by the California Air Resources Board.
Renewable DME used as a transportation fuel can decarbonize the transportation sector while greatly reducing the emissions of particulate matter, greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Founded in 2010 to provide innovative energy solutions to reduce emissions, waste, and carbon impact, Oberon Fuels is the only company currently producing renewable DME commercially. Beyond cleaner emissions, rDME from the Oberon Fuels process creates economic opportunity and jobs for rural economies by tying waste feedstock to multiple renewable fuel markets.
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