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February 12, 2007


Andreas Kay

Methanol is a much more useful energy carrier than hydrogen, because it is liquid under ambient conditions and can be stored in a simple tank, just like gasoline. Hydrogen has either to be compressed and stored in a heavy high-pressure cylinder, or liquefied and kept in a cryogenic container at minus 263 degrees Celsius. Liquefaction of hydrogen consumes at least 25% of its energy and the obtained liquid hydrogen still contains 1.8 times less energy than the same volume of methanol (see The future of the Hydrogen Economy).

I might be interesting to convert hydrogen into methanol as a more practical fuel (if there was a way to produce hydrogen efficiently). To make hydrogen from methanol is just nonsense.


First, nice post, i'm glad that you grasp the concept that methanol is an efficient energy carrier and that hydrogen is problematic in that regard. However, your last comment is way off.

Why look for a way to produce hydrogen, then look for a way to convert it to methanol, then take the methanol, trasport it, then back to hydrogen. Thats a super complicated way of looking at the issue.

The point of this technology is that methanol from renewable sources, wood, straw, and other organic fibers / waste, can beproduced then transported to the end user, and split into H2 and CO2 near the consumer, maybe even onboard the car. And even though CO2 is produced, it is taken from the atmosphere by the plants, and put back, thus no net gain, or a short loop. This is a huge development. does that make sense?


I see it Andreas' way. If you have a methanol source already, why not use the methanol itself as a fuel? What's the sense in making hydrogen from it to be used as fuel?

If the answer is, "to use it in a fuel cell", then in effect what we are talking about is equivalent to a reformer. In which case, it would be best to compare the new process' efficiency not to water electrolysis, but to a reforming process such as this:


IMO the initial article is confusing because it compares a technology that might compete as a reformer with a technology (water electrolysis) that would be used for fuel production.


From someone working in the electrolysis for chemical energy storage field, I would like to say that this linked article is fine in its sale kit for education, but is incredibly misleading in its introductory claims such as "[Shen] has developed an innovative approach, as well as an economic way, to produce hydrogen by alcohol electrolysis [whereby] only 1/3 electricity consumption will be required compared to water electrolysis".

- This is not innovative; methanol and water electrolysis are nothing new whether performed separately or together. The methanol reforming from pasted text that Karl posted is also nothing new and very similar to hydrogen production from natural gas (not that anyone claimed it is new, but just to make sure).

- Where did the methanol come from? This is fine that you may use 1/3 of the electricity of water electrolysis; is that perhaps because 2/3 of the energy needed to get the hydrogen is embedded in the methanol, which was either generated or derived from fossil fuels and their embedded energy?

- Comparing methanol and water as feedstocks to hydrogen production by electrolysis is ridiculous. The latter is the oxidized form of hydrogen and contains no carbon, and the former is a valuable carbonaceous chemical feedstock.

I hope the educational kit does not come with those claims attached.

Sal Lami


What drugs were you using when you posted?

David Moreland

I don't see the advantage of creating hydrogen this way. You are creating only 6 pounds of hydrogen for each 28 pounds of methanol. Forget the electricity, the economics of methanol are not great without significant subsidies, and this makes it worse. And, you still have the carbon coming out as CO2.

Energy Guru

kcl Technical Grade

That's great that you think in this way there's many times that people get boring reading a book.

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SEO Los Angeles

Not sure if I am fallowing. Does this mean that it takes a lot of energy to produce hydro-energy? Or does it take a lot of energy to run a water power plant?

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