Methanol: an Introduction
Methanol or Wood Alcohol CH3OH is the alcoholic version of methane CH4. First isolated by Robert Bolye in 1661, who distilled it out of boxwood, it was first termed pyroxylic spirit and later more specifically methyl alcohol, the precursor of its modern name. Its watery quality is its greatest asset. At room temperature it is a liquid, high density fuel without the extra problems that gas state fuel bring such as high pressures or low temperature cryogenics. Methanol is already a well known industrial product with a range of uses.
Methanol Fuel Cells
Methanol has leapt ahead of hydrogen in the consumer item fuel cell market, probably more due to its liquid physical state than any inherent superiority. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells oxidise methanol to form CO2 with the help of catalysts. They are now being made to power laptop computers and cell phones. Ultracell’s new “UltraCell25” provides a continuous 25W and has a power density of 340WhrKg
Use in Vehicles
Methanol connects with transport through it use as an antifreeze, as a reactant to produce biodiesels from vegetable oils and as direct fuel in its own right.