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Oberon Fuels Partners With Ford & FVV On 3-Year, €3.5 Million Project To Build And Test World’s First Production Passenger Car Powered By DME  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Integrated approach brings together engine manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers, fuel producers and suppliers to accelerate research and commercialization.

Oberon Fuels, Inc. (“Oberon”), the first company to produce fuel-grade dimethyl ether (“DME”) in North America, is partnering with Ford Motor Company, Forschungsvereinigung Verbrennungskraftmaschinen e. V. (FVV), and other FVV member companies on a 3-year, €3.5 million project to research, analyze and test the potential of DME and oligomethyl ether (OME) fuel in passenger cars and heavy-duty truck engines, and ultimately build the world’s first production passenger car powered by DME for on-road testing.

FVV is a unique worldwide research network of 170 international member companies across the engine supply chain, including researchers, engine manufacturers, component suppliers, and fuel providers. FVV has become the leading forum for pre-competitive joint research projects, for the exchange of knowledge between industry and science, and for training junior researchers for work in the industry.

“We must continue to find ways to meet the growing global demand for liquid transportation fuels with lower-carbon fuels and more efficient, cleaner burning engines if we are to ensure the long term sustainability of our planet,” said Ralf Thee, project manager with FVV. “This is our most ambitious project yet, and we are pleased to be working with partners who share our commitment to innovation.”

DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel that can be derived from renewable sources. Its high cetane number and quiet combustion, as well as its inexpensive propane-like fueling system, make it an excellent diesel alternative for both passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles. DME powered engines are expected to benefit from almost soot-free combustion, higher thermal efficiency and excellent cold start properties.

“Ford is committed to helping develop the market for alternative fuels, and DME has exciting characteristics,” said Werner Willems, Ph.D. a technical specialist for powertrain combustion systems with Ford of Europe, and project leader for this initiative. “Not only does DME offer the efficiency and torque desired in a diesel engine, but it can be made from renewable waste streams and reduce the long-term cost of ownership, all of which are important to our customers.”

The project will investigate the use of DME and OME as diesel replacements in passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicle engines, respectively, and will result in the first OEM-produced DME passenger car in the world. Technical preparations and combustion engine development will span the first two years of the project with the third year focused on building demonstrator cars based on the Ford Mondeo. Oberon Fuels will supply DME for the project from its small-scale pilot plant in Brawley, California, which has a nameplate capacity of 4,500 gallons (~17,000 liters) of DME per day.

In this international collaboration, Oberon will work with Ford, RWTH Aachen University, the Technical University of Munich, FVV, TUEV, DENSO, and IAV Automotive Engineering. Through the FVV, the leading forum for joint research projects on engine technology, all automotive manufacturers will gain access to the results and findings of the project, further building the market for DME as a diesel alternative. This project is partly funded by the German Ministry of Economy (BMWi).

“By bringing together numerous stakeholders up and down the supply chain, we will be able to accelerate the process of bringing a new, sustainable fuel to a wide range of vehicles,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., president of Oberon Fuels. “By converting waste streams into cleanburning DME fuel, we can address global emissions as well as create new economic opportunities through more distributed fuel production and consumption. FVV’s and Ford’s leadership in this project are recognized and appreciated by all.”

DME fuel has made significant progress in the United States and around the world, with approvals and certifications from several regulatory bodies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, ASTM International, ISO, and, most recently, the State of California.

About Oberon Fuels

California-based Oberon Fuels monetizes biogas and industrial waste streams by converting such feedstock into higher valued commodities. Using its proprietary small-scale process, Oberon
makes DME, a clean-burning diesel alternative, and methanol from methane and carbon dioxide. In 2013, Oberon Fuels’ pilot plant in Brawley, California produced the first fuel-grade DME in North America, which is currently being used by Volvo Trucks, a division of The Volvo Group, in its commercial demonstrations of DME-powered, heavy-duty trucks. More information about Oberon Fuels, is available at

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