Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

California Approves DME for Use as Vehicle Fuel

February 27, 2015

Graphic via Oberon
Graphic via Oberon

The California Department of Food and Agriculture approved dimethyl ether for legal use as a vehicle fuel. The department determined that DME was of a sufficient quality to be used as a compression-ignition fuel and would not cause damage to engines when used.

The EPA and California Air resources Board and ASTM International contributed to this latest approval of the alternative fuel, in hopes of an accelerated commercial adoption DME.

“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,” said Kristin Macey, director of the Division of Measurement Standards which issued the approval.

DME is a methane based fuel that burns clean and can be derived from a variety of sources including natural gas. Volvo has been developing DME for commercial use with Oberon Fuels, working to build infrastructure and engines to take advantage of the fuel.

“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,” said Susan Alt, senior vice president of public affairs at Volvo. “Each certification increases their confidence that the fuel is good for trucks and the environment.”

Last year, Volvo was conducting a pilot program with Martin Energy Services and Oberon Fuels to bring the fuel to the commercial vehicle industry. DME functions similarly to propane for engine conversion and storage purposes but gets a similar power performance to diesel

"These approvals are a key step in increasing confidence among distributors, engine manufacturers and fleet owners that DME is ready for commercial markets," said Rebecca Boudreaux, president of Oberon. "(The approvals) will benefit Oberon as we build out a global supply of DME fuel."

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