THP-E25: Could Mexico Be The Next Hotbed For Green Hydrogen? And A Simple Explanation Of Renewable Dimethyl Ether (rDME)… What It Is And How It Could Be A Great Way To Transport Hydrogen

July 01, 2021 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2021 • Episode: 25

Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 025, Could Mexico be the next hotbed for green hydrogen? A joint project between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oberon fuels receives Department of Energy funding to produce renewable hydrogen from renewable DME. And just what is this, RDME anyway? All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

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Paul Rodden



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Could Mexico be the next hotbed for green hydrogen? A joint project between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oberon fuels receives Department of Energy funding to produce renewable hydrogen from renewable DME. And just what is this, RDME anyway? All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.

Okay, so according to the president of the Mexican Hydrogen Association, Israel Hurtado companies that have joined the Mexican hydrogen Association consider that there’s a large potential for green hydrogen development in Mexico, particularly given the country’s geographic location and access to abundant renewable energy sources. Members of the industry are looking at Green hydrogen as another fuel that can either substitute or complement natural gas. This coming in an interview he did with natural gas Intel’s Mexico gas price index. Now what I would really like to highlight here is the work that this association is doing regarding hydrogen and the development of hydrogen projects and the market in Mexico.

According to Hurtado, the Association was founded at the end of last year when a group of companies got together to discuss opportunities for hydrogen development, which has become a popular topic of interest in the energy industry globally. The association was created to promote the development of the green hydrogen industry in Mexico. There was a previous Association formed a few years ago known as the Mexican hydrogen society that was more focused on academic study and investigation and scientific research on hydrogen.

And so the formation of this group was done because they considered it necessary to create an industry association that incorporates all of the companies that are developing projects on a global level, as well as companies active across the entire value chain. And the association already has some big players in the hydrogen space, including Enagas, Fermaca, Gas Natural del Noroeste, as well as companies such as Mitsui Power Americas and Iberdrola in all, the association has around 50 members, which is solid growth considering it was just started a few months ago, and when asked about what’s in store for Mexico, in terms of the next steps needed to continue developing, Hurtado said that the next step for them was similar to what’s being done in Europe, which includes consulting with other countries that are further along in their green hydrogen development models.

They said that they’re going to continue to work with and study the results of strategic allies of the Mexican hydrogen Association, and that they’re going to continue to try to develop a national hydrogen strategy similar to the other countries such as Chile, France, Germany, and the US. So promising news coming out of Mexico. And now to talk about another potential feedstock for hydrogen, renewable DME. There’s a new private public partnership between Los Alamos National Labs and South California based Oberon fuels.

This partnership has secured funding from the US Department of Energy. Laboratory and Oberon project is expected to scale up steam reforming technology to produce renewable hydrogen from renewable dimethyl ether RDME. As an innovative approach to increasing the global renewable hydrogen supply. The effort is funded by the DOE’s technology commercialization Fund, which supports mature promising energy technologies with the potential for high impact and is also part of the Department of Energy’s h2atscale initiative to accelerate development of a hydrogen economy by funding advanced technology research, development and demonstration with industrial partners.

And according to c, renewable DME has the potential to overcome two of the largest barriers to widespread hydrogen adoption, the lack of cost competitive sustainable production, and the lack of energy dense storage and transport. DME is a hydrogen rich molecule that can be produced from waste or renewable sources, using Oberon’s modular production technology. Because DME handles like propane and liquefied petroleum gas LPG. It requires minimal modifications to the existing global LPG distribution network and leverages expertise of its existing workforce. This project will produce the final step… technology that can convert RDME into renewable hydrogen fuel at the point of use. According to Rebecca Boudreaux, President and CEO of Oberon fuels, our novel approach to generating hydrogen flips the current model on its head, we are producing a hydrogen rich molecule, moving it using existing low cost infrastructure and converting it to hydrogen fuel on demand. We are thrilled to partner with Los Alamos National Labs and the Department of Energy to meet Secretary Jennifer Granholm his vision for a hydrogen economy.

Now this project is building on a previous benchtop demonstration of a DME steam reforming process conducted by researchers at the laboratory, which produced about point 018 kilograms of hydrogen per day, so not much. The goal is to produce production to about 25 kilograms a day, a greater than 1300 fold increase in hydrogen production capacity. The modeling and experimental outcomes of this project will be used as the foundational underpinnings to further scale the process from 25 kilograms a day to 500 kilograms per day. That exceeds what an average hydrogen filling station currently uses per day for light duty vehicles. And according to Troy Semelsberger, a technical staff member of the Los Alamos National Labs, he says based on the guidelines for alternative fuels, the DoE requirements for hydrogen carriers, our own thermodynamics analysis, and our bench scale proof of concept validation. We believe DME is ideally suited for the h2 at scale effort.

Now, earlier in June, Oberon began commercial production of the first ever renewable DME in the US at its facility in Brawley, California. They were using waste methanol from the pulp and paper industry. Other potential feedstocks include bio gas from dairy waste, food waste, agricultural waste, as well as electricity and co2. So very promising start to this technology. I’m looking forward to seeing if it can actually scale like Oberon hopes it will. And okay, so just a little bit more background on what this DME our RDME is. So very simply, it’s an ether. And it’s the simplest ether. It’s a colorless gas that’s used as a precursor to other organic compounds, and as an aerosol proppant that’s currently being demonstrated for use in a variety of fuel applications. And so how is this DME made and what makes it renewable?

Well, technically, it’s a synthetic biofuel, which is produced from biomass, but it can also be made from bio gas, or methane, which ties it into the renewable natural gas and standard shale gas plays going on in the US now. Now, DME is not a new fuel source. It’s been around for quite a while. But it’s always been used in a very targeted application like laboratory reagents and solvents, or very unique applications like freeze spray for warts or things like blow torches and certain propellants. But now new research is going in to see how it can be used as fuels or as a replacement for things like propane.

But what makes this so interesting in the applications of hydrogen is its boiling point of negative nine degrees Fahrenheit. And what that means is that it can be shipped and trucked and transported much easier than just hydrogen. And so if this project between Los Alamos National Labs and Oberon is successful, that means that DME can be transported as itself and then separated at the source, making it a much more economic feedstock for hydrogen. So I will definitely be keeping my ear to the ground to see if this process can be economic at scale. Okay, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have any questions or comments about today’s episode, come and visit my website at I would really love to hear from you. And as always, take care. Stay safe. I’ll talk to you later.

Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.

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