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Oberon Fuels expands US team to produce first renewable DME

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Oberon Fuels, a producer of low-carbon, renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) transportation fuel, has expanded its team in a county with one of the highest unemployment rates in California, US.

The expansion of the team, which will see five full-time employees joining the company in Brawley, comes as the firm gears up to produce the first rDME in the US.

The employment drive is also the result of public funding from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and private investment from SHV Energy, a major propane distributor. The firm has four additional open positions at the plant and is actively seeking applicants.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia said: “I applaud Oberon Fuels for their investment and overall positive impact on the people and community of Imperial Valley.

“Imperial Valley has among the highest levels of unemployment in California, and these grant opportunities have become more significant than ever, given the harsh economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our state’s ability to support plant expansion and create new, local jobs comes at a pivotal time for our region’s workforce.”

Timothy E. Kelley, who serves as president and CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, commented: “Oberon Fuels’ plant expansion is a shot in the arm to this community and will signal to other employers that quality employees are here and ready to work. We appreciate Oberon’s long-standing partnership and commitment to the Imperial Valley.”

In 2019, the State of California awarded Oberon a $2.9 million (€2.4 million) grant to upgrade its existing DME pilot facility to demonstration scale and enable the first production of rDME in the US, with a target production capacity of around 1.6 million gallons per year.

Oberon’s rDME fuel is a cost-effective, low-carbon zero-soot alternative to petroleum diesel. According to the firm, it is also a cost-effective carrier for hydrogen, making it easy to deliver this renewable fuel for the growing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle industry.

“Growing a business during COVID-19 is full of challenges, said Elliot Hicks, co-founder and COO of Oberon Fuels, “the least of which is finding, interviewing and training new employees.

“I am proud of the team who overcame these challenges – but we are not done. We still have four positions to fill, with people who share our mission of decarbonising transportation while creating healthier and more prosperous local communities.”