Articles

Methanol: A Versatile Fuel for Immediate Use

Science  28 Dec 1973:
Vol. 182, Issue 4119, pp. 1299-1304
DOI: 10.1126/science.182.4119.1299

Abstract

We believe that methanol is the most versatile synthetic fuel available and its use could stretch or eventually substitute for, the disappearing reserves of low-cost petroleum resources. Methanol could be used now as a means for marketing economically the natural gas that is otherwise going to waste in remote locations. If methanol were used as an additive to gasoline at a rate of 5 to 15 percent, for use in internal combustion engines, there would be an immediate reduction in atmospheric pollution, there would be less need for lead in fuel, and automobile performance would be improved.

With increasing production of fuel-grade methanol from coal and other sources, we foresee the increasing use of methanol for electrical power plants, for heating, and for other fuel applications. We hope that a practical methanol fuel cell will be commercially available by the time that methanol becomes plentiful for fuel purposes.

Methanol offers a particularly attractive form of solar-energy conservation, since agricultural and forest waste products can be used as the starting material. Indeed, at 1 percent conversion efficiency the forest lands could supply the entire present energy requirements of the United States.