Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is methanol the fuel of the future?

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The researchers cited in the article below seem to think so.

Methanol makes a lot of sense given the recent realization that we are sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas here in the US and elsewhere.  The intriguing thing about methanol is that it is easily created from water and carbon dioxide.  If we can commercialize the use of carbon dioxide and extend the life of existing fossil fuels we would experience a win win.

Apparently, the catch is the US currently doesn't allow the use of methanol in the internal combustion engine.  More dumb dumb dumb regulations it seems.  To the extent my green friends think I've jumped the shark when it comes to work in the oil and gas energy this seems to be a perfect compromise.  Methanol can be created anywhere on the planet.  As the article notes:

Methanol can be made solely with water and carbon dioxide — available everywhere on Earth — and any energy source such as solar, wind, geothermal or safe nuclear energy.

I'm not sure what the costs of production are, but surely the process can compete with $75 to $100 a barrel oil.  Hell, I'd wouldn't be surprised if it couldn't compete with $40 to $60 a barrel oil.  Further, any gas to liquid fuel plant worth its salt ought to be able to produce methanol on a grand scale. 

My understanding is methanol can be used in a fuel cell to generate DC electric current.  The question in my mind is what happens to the carbon dioxide that's in the methanol once the chemical process that creates the DC current runs its course in the fuel cell.  Doesn't it just come out as water and carbon dioxide?  If the process creates carbon dioxide won't those shrieking and wailing about global warming due to carbon dioxide oppose the process?

Overall, I see this as a viable step forward and again I'm apalled that the US government bars use of methanol in combustion engines - if in fact it does - as such restrictions seem counter productive, at least in this setting.  Any readers with insight into these issues should contact me.

Read the whole thing

James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
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Cristian Balau said...

Methanol is definitely a great fuel but its still doesn't solve the problem of fuel consumption on the long terms. It still is a finite thing.

ran daniels said...

Well if it is the future this is a really good thing. Its greener and then construction can also get a better name because we use green practices and where not just taking loads off fossil fuels for example.

Water Damage Huntington Beach CA said...

I think I agree with the possibility that it may start to become more and more prevalent...Cristian has a point, but I think the methanol solution coupled with other options suck as geothermal, wind and other natural energy options would collectively start to handle the problem. Either way I like it for the construction biz better than most of our current options.