Tuesday, August 9, 2011
One of methanol's biggest advantages as a fuel is that it can be made from a huge variety of sources. Anything that is, or ever was, a plant can be used to produce this biodegradable fuel. Natural gas, coal, biomass, agricultural waste, landfill gas, industrial waste and even CO2 itself can all be used for methanol production based on existing mature technologies.
Methanol can be used in transportation directly as fuel, blended with gasoline, converted into a diesel replacement, or as a part of the biodiesel production process. The six minute video below illustrates the many uses of methanol in transportation:
Alcohol fuels have been used widely in transportation ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, and continue to be employed today as an alternative to gasoline derived from oil. Methanol is an ideal fuel for transportation because of its efficient combustion and low cost compared to other liquid fuels.
When burned, gasoline produces a number of harmful and toxic byproducts that are reduced or eliminated by replacement with methanol. Emissions of unburned carbons and carbon monoxide are much lower when consuming methanol fuel, and methanol also greatly reduces NOx emissions as well. Methanol burns with almost no particulate matter (which can lead to respiratory problems like asthma). Emissions from methanol fuel are also less reactive, and create less ground-level ozone and smog.
Methanol is a high octane fuel that enables very efficient and powerful engine performance. Engines optimized for methanol are as much as 75% more efficient than conventional gasoline-fueled engines. The power-producing qualities of methanol are well-known and it is used in several professional and amateur racing sanctioning organizations (e.g., the National Hot Rod Association and the United States Auto Club).
With the passing of the Open Fuel Standard Act, cars will be capable of burning methanol, ethanol, or gasoline, or any mixture of the two, allowing every car to be a platform on which fuels can compete. If you'd like to help make it happen, start here.
The article above is a modified version of a longer article you can find here: Methanol Transportation Fuel.