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Chemistry Issue Investigation 2011 Is methanol a better alternative compared to petrol mixtures for cars?

1.0 Introduction. 1.1 What is Methanol? The simplest aliphatic alcohol is methanol, CH3OH compared to other chemicals in the hydroxyl group and in the homologous series, it is the first member according to (Leary 2000). Methanol fuel is also known as M85 or wood alcohol. M85 is potential enough in being a liable renewable alternative energy source for vehicles that has its own advantages over the combustion of petrol mixtures, with lesser global warming contributions. Due to the 85% of methanol and 15% of normal gasoline that is present in the fuel, it is given the name M85. (Middle East Herald 25 February 2011, p.1).

When the number of carbon atoms in a hydrocarbon molecule increases, so does its molecular weight and boiling point of the particular hydrocarbon molecule. Australian Institute of Petroleum (n.d.)

3.0 Point of view/analysis 3.1 Advantages Using Methanol Methanol fuel has both good sides and bad sides, but when global warming and the damage done to the environment in terms of combustion is considered, the advantages methanol indeed dominates the disadvantages. Methanol is a very powerful fuel possessing one hundred octane rating. This is understood that methanol fuels allow for a higher efficiency and higher compression, compared to traditional gasoline or petroleum. Methanol fuels, that include the M85, has a much cleaner burning rate compared to other fuels. Methanol is said to be very environment-friendly, sustainable and renewable, it does not endanger the environment or contribute highly to the melting of ice caps or global warming, and at eight five percent methanol combined with fifteen percent gasoline the dependence on fossil fuels imported from foreign countries can be greatly reduced or even eliminated completely. Other than that, methanol fuel is less flammable or explosive compared to gasoline or petrol. (Middle East Herald 25 February 2011, p.1).

3.2 Disadvantage Using Methanol Methanol does have some disadvantages as well although the advantages dominate. Unfortunately, methanol is not volatile enough to start an engine when it is cold, but it is effective when mixed with gasoline. This fuel is corrosive, therefore it needs custom-made storage tanks for the fuel. Methanol contains lesser energy content than gasoline, and there is also a higher cost ratio than gasoline in comparison. Also, when methanol combustion takes place, a large

quantity of formaldehyde is released as its byproduct, and this can cause problems to arise in certain situations. (Middle East Herald 25 February 2011, p.1).

3.3 Advantages Using Petrol Mixtures Gasoline has a higher energy content compared to methanol fuel and it has no problem in starting an engine in cold situations. It is also much lower in cost and fortunately it does not release a huge quantity of formaldehyde in its emissions into the atmosphere. It is a far lesser corrosive fuel than methanol making it costeffective in materials and equipment for storage of the fuel. (Middle East Herald 25 February 2011, p.1). 3.4 Disadvantages Using Petrol Mixtures The presence of petrol in the environment does not always lead to exposure however it can cause any adverse health effects when one comes into contact with it but only if its long-term exposure. Negative health effects may arise when highly exposed to petrol mixtures by breathing, consuming the substance or even by skin contact however it depends on the amount to which you are exposed, the duration of exposure, the way you are exposed. It is also highly flammable when compared to methanol and mixtures of petrol vapour and air have a tendency to explode without caution. (Chilcott.R 2007)

4.0 Conclusion In conclusion, methanol fuel has both good sides and bad sides. Both sides should be considered carefully before taking methanol into consideration. Petrol mixtures have a higher energy content compared to methanol fuel and it has no problem in starting an engine in cold situations. It is also much lower in cost too. Finally, methanol is far

better than petrol mixtures when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming contributions, although the wait for more advanced technology is needed to produce this fuel cheaply with reduced carbon release Reference list. Australian Institute of Petroleum n.d., REFINING OF PETROLEUM, viewed 27 February 2011, Chilcott.R 2007, Petrol, viewed 27 February 2011, Leary 2000, Methanol, viewed 26 February, Middle East Herald 2011, Methanol Fuel, 25 February, p.1, viewed 27 February 2011, Yucel.M 1990, Methanol as an alternative fuel, December, pp. 2-14