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November 13, 2005


J. R. McCormick

Interesting commentary on methanol. I would be interested in discussing this further. Please glance at my url
http://dr_methanol.home.att.net for much personal opinion on various alternative motor fuels especially methanol.
J. R. McCormick

barry hanson

A recent book by George Olah at USC, The Methanol Economy, sheds alot of light on the prospects for methanol. Olah is a Nobel prize winner in chemistry.

James R. Crocco

I started the global methanol consulting business back in early 1983. At that time I also organized the First World Methanol Conference in Brussels in early December of that year. One of the speakers was a VP of Ford for Europe and he gave a talk on
M-100, or Ford's experience in developing its Escorts to burn 100% methanol in California. Another speaker was from the Dutch TNO, or Road Institute, who gave a paper on "The Alcohol/Petrol Ratio Sensor", a device that could be installed in cars to allow vehicles to burn methanol or gasoline, or any percentage of the two, quite easily. That evening I saw the two, from Ford and the TNO, having dinner together.

A few years later Ford came out with its version of the Flexible Fueled Vehicle, or FFV. It soon became apparent that simply allowing the customer to pump methanol or gasoline into his fuel tank was going to be problematical. At high concentrations of alcohol there were cold starting problems, as mentioned in the above article,and, should a fire occur, the flame would hardly be luminous in daylight, as also mentioned. Therefore, shortly after the introduction of the FFV in the USA M-85 was developed. This was a pre-blend of 85% methanol and 15% premium unleaded gasoline pumped through a special system at some gasoline stations.

After a perhaps almost a decade the FFV and M-85 fell out of interest. This was partly because Big Oil only gave lip service to the program since only less than 100 service stations in the country, with most of them in California, had M-85 available. Also, in the mid 1990's methanol prices went through the roof, reaching $1.80 per gallon wholesale and in large quantities, that made it economically unfeasible.

The FFV is now coming back in favor but with E-85 (ethanol). But ethanol is also now getting quite high in pricing as it recently reached over $5.00 per gallon in the spot market in the New York Harbor. Similar to M-85, E-85 is also quite limited in consumer outlets that are focused mostly close to where ethanol is being produced - in the Midwest. There are said to be over 5 million E-85 FFV's in this country and that figure will grow mostly in the rent-a-car industry. But the actual use of ethanol will not grow accordingly in the near term at least since ethanol is so expensive. The drivers will fill up on gasoline for the most part. However, the auto makers get a credit against their CAFE efficiencies wherein, because they build and sell FFV's regardless of whether or not they use E-85, they will get MPG credits that they can use to build and sell bigger and more gasoline guzzling cars that will require additional imported oil or gasoline.

In a nutsahell the FFV does not cost much more to produce - around $200 per unit, and they can use E-85 or M-85 with no changes in systems.

Gray Kinnie

J R McCormick didn't expound much on Prof Dr Olas' book, so I would like to note: the beauty of Methanol is that since it can burn either in an internal combustion engine or in fuel cells, under development and refinement, and it is so much easier to transport and store than hydrogen, it provides a smooth path to the post oil and gas era. If you have energy, co2 and water, you can always make methanol and from it, almost any other petroleum product.

J. R. McCormick

Sorry, my url was incorrectly quoted above as http://dr_methanol.home.att.net.
My correct URL is:
As to Professor Olah's book: "Beyond Oil and Gas, the Methanol Economy", I would say that the main thrust of this work is comparisons of statistics of the oil,gas and coal industries and rather incidently deals with the Methanol Econamy. And even there mainly emphasizes the possibilitry, even probability that methanol may eventually be made by direct oxidation of methane. This is a highly desirable goal, and one that has been investigated for many years, so far to no practical avail.
That being said, The U. S. does not have an abundance of methane and even now we are importing methane as cryogenic liquid and essentially all our methanol is manufactured abroad from stranded methane. The oil industry has a major hand in this and the recent history of methanol pricing shows that it too is linked to the price of crude oil.

J. R. McCormick

I consider that remarks about the toxicity of methanol are a red herring. Ethanol and gasoline are toxic too. Before Prestone, huge quantities of methanol were used safely as auto antifreeze, and even now, methanol is readily available as fuel line antifreeze. Evidently, post prohibition, people learned not to drink methanol. It can be abused, of course, but then, what cant.
The other red herringis the corrosiveness of methanol. It seems weell known that the presence of a few percernt of water in methanol prevents it reactivity with aluminum and magnesium. I have examined this point in a rudimentary way and observe no reactvity with ordinary anodized aluminum. Incidently, the few percent of water has no effect on combustability. The corrosion problem also arose in early work from the film of water left om cylinder surfaces when methanol evaporated. Gasoline will do the same thing--evaporative cooling condensing water from the air--gasoline however contains higher boiling oils which act to protect the iron surfaces. A trace of oil dissolved in the methanol wud presumably have the same effect.

J. R. McCormick

I have recently learned that a Ford Taurus of unknown vintage has a notation in its Computer that it is METHANOL capable. Interesting! Can anyone confirm this for their Taurus?
J. McCormick


Initially it would be of great advantage to stop the insane transport of LNG, and instead transport methanol which can be made from Natural Gas at less than $1 per gallon.

For example large reserves in the Mackenzie Delta, a lot cheaper to convert it to methanol and ship the methanol in tankers, then to build an environmentally controversial $20 billion pipeline to transport some of it to southern markets. And it is both safe from disastrous explosion (i.e. LNG) and environmental damage if spilled (i.e. Petroleum), to transport by tanker.

The toxicity of methanol (actually not from methanol but the formic acid that is produced from it in the body after 10-24 hours post ingestion) is an issue, but it is routinely used in Northern countries as a gasline antifreeze, and sold in grocery stores in flimsy plastic bottles (they wouldn't let you buy gasoline like that). The addition of a few parts per billion of Bitrex and a simple colorant would make accidental ingestion a non-event, and there isn't a chance in hell that methanol poisoning deaths would even minutely approach deaths due to gasoline fires & carcinogenic fumes, never mind toxic automobile exhaust or prescription drug overdose deaths.

I put some aluminum, black iron, copper, brass, & galvanized steel in a jar of methanol and the same in a jar of pure water over a month ago. I see zero sign of corrosion in the methanol jar, but definite rust scunge in the water jar. Conclusion, I reckon the handling of water in our cooling systems and house plumbing systems, must have taken some extraordinary breakthroughs in materials science!

As for cold weather starting of methanol fueled engines, the trend and the ideal would be to burn methanol in hybrids in which cylinder preheat is a trivial (& desirable) matter, just as the Prius preheats their Atkinson engine. And a methanol fueled high compression, turbo-charged, port fuel injected, spark ignition engine/generator would be ideal, for a series hybrid EV. At 43% efficiency, unlike the useable ICE TDI diesel vehicle maximum engine efficiency of about 32%.

And I don’t get this pungent odor thing, I don’t smell but the faintest odor, very pleasant to work with, unlike gasoline which burns the skin and has a strong carcinogenic odor. Also I stick a torch in an open jar of methanol and nothing happens, no flame, with gasoline I would burn my face doing the same thing. You have to place the flame almost right on the methanol to get it to burn, very safe, a nice gentle clean flame when ignited. That’s why it is required for use in racing cars or a mix with ethanol.

And, methanol is present in fruit juice already, and entirely nontoxic to the environment. If you spill fuel oil or gasoline, call in the environment people to dig up all the soil and transport it to a toxic waste disposal site (or you could be arrested), methanol wash it down with water, it dissipates harmlessly in the environment.

husky air compressor

I'm working on a green house project. I'm really interested by this Methanol and I really would like to know if it's reliable for single housing application.
thanks a lot!
Husky air compressor
Husky air compressor parts

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