Oberon Fuels Receives Biogas RFS Approval

Joanna Schroeder

Oberon Fuels has received approval as a renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its biogas-based dimethyl ether (DME) fuel. The company’s biogas-based DME is now eligible for high value D-Code 3 (cellulosic) and D-Code 5 (advanced) renewable identification numbers (RINs). The EPA 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.

Oberon Fuels logo“Less than a year after submitting our pathway petition, this biogas produced fuel was approved. We are excited to see the EPA continue to support innovative, new fuels and include Oberon’s DME under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., president of Oberon Fuels.

According to Oberon co-founder and COO Elliot Hicks, DME is a simple fuel. It requires a simple diesel engine and has simple propane-like handling properties.

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. ASTM D7901 provides guidance for fuel producers, engine and component suppliers, and infrastructure developers on DME purity, testing, safety, and handling.

Susan Alt, Volvo Group North America’s senior vice president of public affairs said of the approval, “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. 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.”

While the approval of Oberon’s biogas-based DME introduces another renewable fuel option to the fuel supply, there are still nearly 40 other pending pathways for feedstocks, technologies and types of fuels that are still waiting approval from the EPA. This issue according to the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), is stalling the introduction of additional renewable fuels it the marketplace and putting investors and entrepenuers on the sidelines rather then on the playing field.

“While the recent approval of a new dimethyl ether pathway will bring more gallons under the RFS, too many cutting edge technologies are still trapped in limbo, stuck in an EPA approval process that simply takes too long,” said Michael McAdams, ABFA President in response to EPA’s approval. “EPA must move quickly to determine the fate of these pending pathways. By delaying, EPA puts innovators on the sideline and removes potential sustainable gallons from being counted towards the Renewable Volume Obligation targets.”

advanced biofuels, EPA, RFS, RINS