Propane+rDME arrives in California

June 10, 2022 By    

Suburban Propane Partners is pushing further into renewables with the commercial launch of propane+rDME.

Propane+rDME combines conventional or renewable propane with renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) produced by California-based Oberon Fuels to create a pathway for lowering emissions and meeting carbon-reduction standards.

The blended alternative product has a low carbon intensity and can be used as a drop-in replacement for propane engines in both on-road and off-road applications, says Suburban.

The product is currently being used in material handling and over-the-road engine applications by a pilot group of Suburban’s existing forklift and fleet customers.

“Over time, as more testing is performed, we will expand the availability of propane+rDME to all applications currently using propane, including residential and commercial heating and cooking appliances,” says Nandini Sankara, spokesperson for Suburban.

The New Jersey company is offering the product out of its Anaheim, California, plant to customers in the Los Angeles area, which are obligated to comply with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) low carbon fuel standard.

“The use of propane+rDME in their forklifts and fleet vehicles allows them to continue using those assets even as the CARB carbon intensity limits decrease in the coming years,” says Sankara.

Suburban expects blends with traditional propane to earn a CARB carbon intensity score near zero or negative and blends with renewable propane to be “significantly negative.”

Product testing

To advance adoption of low-carbon alternatives, including propane+rDME, in multiple applications, Suburban has partnered with Iwatani Corp. of America, a subsidiary of Iwatani Corp.

Using Iwatani’s research and development laboratory in Japan and each company’s relationships with OEMs and suppliers, the partners will test and evaluate material compatibility, equipment performance and emissions profiles of residential and commercial appliances, forklifts and on-road vehicles at varying blend levels.

The partnership will also explore investment opportunities to expand the distribution network for hydrogen in the U.S.

Head start on rDME

Propane marketers interested in obtaining rDME to blend with their current propane product now have an opportunity to enter the market.

California-based Oberon Fuels, an rDME producer, is offering an early access program through which it provides rDME, helps marketers develop commercialization plans for a blended product in their markets, and position themselves as sustainability leaders.

“We want to help companies get a plan in place, get renewable fuel into their supply chain and get in front of their customers with renewable solutions,” says Cinch Munson, vice president of commercial development at Oberon Fuels.

Oberon Fuels’ deliverables for the program include:

  • Offtake agreement: Marketers can secure rDME supply.
  • Market analysis: Work with marketers to identify and prioritize targets for a blend.
  • Geographical evaluation: Work with marketers to identity blending locations and geographical markets for the blend.
  • Operational rollout: Assist marketers in anticipating and planning for material and operational changes, including equipment testing and codes, standards and regulations.
  • rDME for testing and demonstrations: Participating marketers will have a reserved volume needed to test rDME.
  • Marketing and public relations plan: Plan a series of joint milestone announcements across multiple channels to position marketers as sustainability leaders.
  • Project management: Oberon will track deliverables, milestones and progress while resolving issues.
  • Commercial launch: Help marketers plan and execute a commercial rollout.

For more information, contact Munson at or 308-530-0020.

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