Chemistry of methanol Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, is a clear flammable liquid. Methanol occurs naturally in the environment because of biological processes by vegetation, microorganisms, and other living species. (Methanol Institute) It is water soluble and biodegradable in both the presence and the absence of air. It does not generate any significant odor. Methanol also can be produced from a wide range of renewable resources. Liquid methanol contains more energy per unit weight than any other stored form of hydrogen application. (Cheng and H.) It is also safer to handle than any form of stored hydrogen. Like other alcohols, methanol is flammable; however, small volumes of methanol packaged in sealed plastic containers, present little, if any danger to potential users. (Methanol Institute)
How methanol is made
Methanol can be produced from any carbon-based source. These would include: natural gas, coal, municipal wastes, landfill gas, wood wastes, and seaweed. (Cheng and H.) Methanol is primarily produced by steam reforming natural gas to create a synthesis gas (combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide), which is fed into a reactor vessel in the presence of a nickel catalyst to produce water vapor and methanol. Distillation is step is used to remove water from the finished methanol. (Lee)
Commercial use of methanol Methanol is a colorless liquid which has a number of industrial and consumer uses. (Methanol Institute) As a basic building block for hundreds of chemical products, methanol is being used effectively and safely for everything from paints and plastics to construction materials and windshield washer fluid. (Cheng and H.) It is the principal ingredient in various... [continues]
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