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Methanol is a liquid chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is
colorless, volatile, flammable, and poisonous. Methanol is made from the destructive
distillation of wood and is chiefly synthesized from carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Its principal
uses are in organic synthesis, as a fuel, solvent, and antifreeze.
Methanol is a polar liquid at room temperature. It is used as antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a
denaturant for ethanol. The chemical is also used to produce biodiesel via transesterification
Because methanol has toxic properties, it is frequently used as a denaturant additive for
ethanol manufactured for industrial purposes. Methanol is frequently called wood alcohol
because it was once produced primarily as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood.
Today, three methods are commonly used to produce synthesis gas from the methane
component in natural gas. The methods are steam-methane or SMR, which is endothermic,
partial oxidation with molecular oxygen, which is exothermic, and the combination of the two,
which is referred to as autothermal reforming.

Catalysts that are capable of operating at lower temperatures such as copper are used to
efficiently produce modern methanol. Low pressure methanol (LPM) was developed by ICI in
the late 1960s with the technology owned by Johnson Matthey, the leading licensor of
methanol technology.
Natural gas is the most economical and widely used feedstock for methanol production.
However, other feedstocks can be used. Coal is increasing in popularity as a feedstock for
methanol production, particularly in China. Additionally, mature technologies available for
biomass gasification are being implemented for methanol production.

- Lower price per calorie
- Lower emissions
- Safer liquid fuel
- Energy efficiency, Higher octane
A major advantage of methanol is that methane, its raw material form, can be mined and is
already produced by the US cattle farming industry. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is dangerous
in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Harnessing methane contributes to
solving the energy problem as well as puts a dent in our pollution levels.
Unlike hybrid cars, methanol could be a completely domestic industry, and not cost the
environment in international transportation between manufacturing plants in the way hybrid
vehicles do.

- High amount of formaldehyde emissions
- As with Ethanol, it gets less gas mileage, so it would require more frequent fueling.
- More expensive compared to premium gasoline
The disadvantages of methanol are similar to the ones found in ethanol production, namely
that it requires the sacrifice of food resources in order to have an effective harvest. Cows bred
for high methane output have inferior milk and meat, and since meat and milk is really the only
realistic way to make a mass of cows profitable, farmers would be taking a massive risk in
breeding cows for higher methane output, and therefore the cost of beef and milk would rise,
harming the lower and middle class families.
Also, because methanol is less volatile than gasoline, it would be more difficult to start a car in
cold weather, which would inconvenience people that live in areas with snowy winter climates.
Methanol is viable alternative because it can be cheap and efficient to recover and convert, but
it can also be incredibly expensive if we run out of methane fields from which to harvest and
crystalline form.

By far, the largest use of methanol is in manufacture of other chemicals. Approximately 40
percent of methanol is converted to formaldehyde. It is then used to make other products as
diverse as plastics, plywood, paints, explosives, and permanent press textiles.
Other chemical derivatives of methanol include dimethyl ether, which has replaced
chlorofluorocarbons as an aerosol spray propellant, and acetic acid. Dimethyl ether or “DME”
also can be blended with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for home heating and cooking, and can
be used as a diesel replacement transportation fuel.

Fuel for vehicles

Methanol is used to fuel internal combustion engines on a limited basis, primarily because it is
not nearly as flammable as gasoline. Methanol is more difficult to ignite than gasoline and
produces just one-eighth of the heat. Many racing classes including drag racers and mud racers
use methanol as their primary fuel source. Methanol is required with a supercharged engine in
a Top Alcohol Dragster and, until the end of 2006, all vehicles in the Indianapolis 500 had to run
methanol. Mud racers have mixed methanol with gasoline and nitrous oxide to produce more
power than gasoline and nitrous oxide alone.

Industry Uses
- Adhesives and sealant chemicals - Laboratory chemicals
- Adsorbents and absorbents - Odor agents
- Agricultural chemicals (non- - Oxidizing/reducing agents
pesticidal) - Paint additives and coating additives
- Anti-adhesive agents not described by other categories
- Bleaching agents - Process regulators
- Corrosion inhibitors and anti-scaling - Processing aids, not otherwise listed
agents - Processing aids, specific to
- Dyes petroleum production
- Fuels and fuel additives - Solvents (for cleaning or degreasing)
- Functional fluids (open systems)
Consumer Uses
- Intermediates
- Ion exchange agents
- Adhesives and Sealants
- Agricultural Products (non-
- Anti-Freeze and De-icing Products
- Automotive Care Products
- Building/Construction Materials -
Wood and Engineered Wood
- Fabric, Textile, and Leather Products
not covered elsewhere
- Fuels and Related Products
- Ink, Toner, and Colorant Products
- Paints and Coatings
- Paper Products
- Plastic and Rubber Products not
covered elsewhere
- Water Treatment Products