Collaboration established to evaluate rDME, propane blends

December 9, 2021 By    
Photo: knowlesgallery/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The dimethyl ether molecule handles similarly to that of propane. Photo: knowlesgallery/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Suburban Propane Partners, renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) producer Oberon Fuels and Empresas Lipigas – a propane distributor in Chile, Colombia and Peru – are collaborating to test a low-carbon fuel blend in Latin America.

Through the collaboration, the three companies aim to evaluate and validate the material compatibility, safety and performance attributes of a rDME-propane blended product for use in residential and commercial heating and cooking applications in Latin America.

rDME has similar properties to propane, says Oberon Fuels, making it an excellent blending agent with the already-low-carbon fuel. The blend of the two fuels can be stored and transported using existing LPG infrastructure and can be used in many applications, such as transportation, cooking, heating, forklifts and power generation.

“At Lipigas, we are preparing our way to become a carbon-neutral company,” says Ángel Mafucci, CEO of Empresas Lipigas South America. “That is why we are exploring more sustainable energy alternatives that contribute to Chile achieving energy independence.”

Lipigas will manage the testing plans and protocols, including each fuel’s blend percentage, appliance specifications, testing time frames and applications in which the blended product will be used.

Suburban Propane is facilitating project logistics and participating in data analysis. Meanwhile, Oberon Fuels will provide the rDME, produced from its flagship production facility in Brawley, California, and domain expertise to the project based on a decade-plus of production, market and regulatory development activities, the company says.

“From the very beginning of our investment in Oberon Fuels, we believed in the potential for rDME+propane blended products to reduce the carbon intensity of propane beyond the transportation sector,” says Michael Stivala, president and CEO of Suburban Propane. “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with Lipigas and Oberon to begin to test these applications. Lipigas’ market leadership in Chile, combined with our experience and reach across the U.S. markets, will accelerate the adoption of rDME across the full spectrum of LPG uses.”

Adds Rebecca Boudreaux, president and CEO of Oberon Fuels: “The evaluation of Oberon’s rDME for residential and commercial markets in Latin America is a major milestone for us on two fronts. It marks the shift in our U.S.-based market development efforts to global deployment, and it is the first step in the use of rDME+LPG blends beyond transportation. We are thrilled to be working with Lipigas and Suburban Propane on this project.”

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) was the managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

1 Comment on "Collaboration established to evaluate rDME, propane blends"

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  1. Hello Carly, I am very interested in the mechanics of how rDME is blended with LPG, is it a difficult and equipment intense process or very simple?
    I would like to see more articles on who and what is involved in this area. Will Oberon sell the rDME to other Marketers or has Suburban have it locked up and will price it like they do their Propane, which in most situations is quite a bit higher to the Consumer to make up for their inefficiency.