BioFuels Revolution – Methanol
Methanol or methyl alcohol is commercial known as wood alcohol or wood spirit. It’s a colorless liquid that burns with non-luminous flame and is a strong poison. Methanol is one of the essential building blocks of the chemical industry and one of the largest-volume commodity materials produced in the world today, with primary resins raw material for building products and numerous types of polymers and plastics.
Methanol is largely used as base for the production of other important chemicals which in turn are utilized in the plastics, textile, paint and auto industries. Methanol is higher in octane than gasoline and often used as a fuel additive in reformulated gasoline (MTBE), rocket propellant and as a fuel blend for a variety of vehicular racing sports. Methanol is also commonly used as the methyl alcohol component in the transestefication process to make biodiesel.
Methanol Production Sources
Methanol is made primarily from natural gas sources via catalytic synthesis . Natural gas is reformed with steam to produce syngas which is catalytically reacted to make methanol.
While conversion costs for this technology are normally low, the price of methanol in the past few years has ranged from $0.70 – $1.80 a gallon. The drive-force is the price of natural gas – a non-renewable and permanently declining resource.
Worldwide Production capacities for methanol are estimated to be in the range of 30-40MM metric tons pper year.