Why Methanol May Be the Next Big Chemical Story Paula Wendland
Methanol Makes Sense as a Fuel Additive ... in China
China consumes 40% of the global methanol supply and is also the world’s the largest user of methanol as a fuel. While the Chinese government approves its use as an additive to gasoline and even offers some tax incentives to motorists, methanol (unlike ethanol) is economical as an additive without government support or subsidies. Private fuel stations sell methanol blends in eight Chinese provinces today, and several auto manufacturers now make Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) that run on fuel with a high methanol content. Methanol as an additive is particularly appealing to bus and taxi drivers looking to save on their gasoline costs.
According to the China Association of Alcohol and Ether Clean Fuels, 7 million tonnes of methanol were used in fuels in 2011 – a figure expected to double by 2015. Methanol’s cost advantages over ethanol and its ability to reduce CO2 emissions have led to predictions that its use as a transportation fuel will grow to rival its role in the manufacture of building materials and various chemical commodities.
In the US, however, methanol has largely been abandoned as a transportation fuel, either due to risks of groundwater contamination or the political momentum of the ethanol lobby (depending on whose blog you read).
Environmental consulting firm Malcolm Pirnie prepared a study entitled 'Evaluation of the Fate and Transport of Methanol in the Environment. This research looks at the impact that methanol has when released in different scenarios,and results from laboratory and field studies documented in the literature and computer modeling were used to assess the fate and transport of methanol in the environment. This report concluded that "methanol spills to the soil, groundwater, and surface water will quickly biodegrade under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions."
Building upon that study, the scientific and engineering consulting firm Exponent completed another study
Simply put, methanol-to-olefins (MTO) is a process that converts methanol to the building blocks of plastics. The commodity produced then becomes plastic for films and packaging. From 2012 to 2015, 16 methanol-to-olefins and methanol-to-propylene (MTP) plants are scheduled to come on stream in China, requiring an estimated 8 million tonnes of methanol every year. Considering a global market of only 50 million tonnes annually, these new projects should have a material impact on spot and contract prices for methanol.
Natural Gas Is a Feedstock for Methanol Production
Although methanol can be made from multiple feedstocks, producers clearly prefer natural gas to coal. In fact, Chinese producers have found it so uneconomic to make methanol from the country’s plentiful coal reserves that China has become a net importer of methanol. Historically, methanol prices have closely tracked crude oil because high gasoline prices tend to encourage more fuel blending. Natural gas, on the other hand, appears to have permanently decoupled from oil, and natural gas is the principal feedstock for methanol production in North America. This means that input costs for domestic methanol companies could remain stable and reasonable as long as gas can be sourced from shale.
How deluded or dishonest are American environmentalists that they protest oil sands while corn ethanol corruption plows over the most marginal grass lands at a rate exceeding the highest level of decimation of the rain forests?
That this alone with heavy use of chemicals and fertilizers is massively and avoidably adding to co2 emissions. That the water pollution is off the charts as farmers not only force marginal buffer grasslands into service but forego proper land rotation to chase the distortion caused by Progressive corruption? Requiring even more fertilizer for the fertilizer hungry corn?
Even worse the oxygenation in our gas is obsoleted by engines with computer controlled injections. Every car built in the last twenty years.
Advance methanol technology is in service. Co2 recycling from relatively pure natural gas processes is being built. Methanol already reduces co2 emission compared to gasoline by 30%+. It rapidly bio-degrades unlike mtbe. It can be delivered directly to refineries as natural gas for conversion.
So of course Obama/Progressive/collectivist environmentalists demand more tax money for base load solar, wind and worst of all corn ethanol corruption/insanity.
market data on the extent of methanol fuel blending in China. The country consumed 7 million tons of methanol in 2011 for gasoline blending, and it is expected to reach 15 million tons by 2015. 26 provinces have entered into research and development on methanol fuel, with 160 enterprises involved in the methanol gasoline industr
Now for what reason does the OLB member like Stag the Corn Monster Investment Bumble Beast and his good friend sweetie William come on this board and claim this ethanol corruption is fantastic.
Nor does it worked well economically in Brazil. Still they can produce this insanity at a far lower price than our corn ignorance and rapidly increasing imports are keeping the corn crush spread negative.
Why all this rather than just go methanol? Technically a diesel/methanol locomotive is much more logical than pulling around huge volumes of natural gas.