Methanol Definition

Methanol (methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha, methyl hydrate, or wood spirits) is a liquid chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is colorless, volatile, flammable, and poisonous. It is the simplest form of alcohol and has a distinctive odor that is similar to ethanol (drinking alcohol), but slightly sweeter. methyl alcohol is used primarily as a feedstock for the manufacture of chemicals, and as a fuel for specialized vehicles. As mentioned above, it is a common de-naturing agent. As a common laboratory solvent, is especially useful for HPLC, UV/VIS spectroscopy, and LCMS due to its low UV cutoff. Methanol is primarily used in making other chemicals. About 40% of methyl alcohol is converted to formaldehyde, and from there into products as diverse as plastics, plywood, paints, explosives, and permanent press textiles.(more) Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is the simplest alcohol, appearing as a colorless liquid with a distinctive smell. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most useful chemical compounds. In fact, it is one of the most promising building blocks for obtaining more complex chemical structures, such as acetic acid, methyl tertiary butyl ether, dimethyl ether, methylamine, etc. Furthermore, methyl alcohol is also considered a promising clean-burning fuel with a high octane number.


Methanol Applications

  1. Antifreeze (More) Methanol has chemical properties which allow it to lower the freezing point of a water-based liquid and increase its boiling point. These attributes lead methyl alcohol to be used as an antifreeze in windshield washer fluid to keep the cleaning fluid from freezing. It is also injected in natural gas pipelines, where it lowers the freezing point of water during oil and gas transport.
  2. Solvent (More) Methanol is primarily used as an industrial solvent to help create inks, resins, adhesives, and dyes. It is also used as a solvent in the manufacture of important pharmaceutical ingredients and products such as cholesterol, streptomycin, vitamins and hormones.
  3. Fuel (More) Roughly 45 percent of the world’s methyl alcohol is used in energy-related applications. Methanol can be used as a type of vehicle fuel or marine fuel for boats. It can also be blended into gasoline to produce an efficient fuel known as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) which can have lower emissions than conventional gasoline. methyl alcohol also is used in biodiesel, a renewable type of fuel made from plants or animal fats that can be used in place of, or blended into, conventional fuel.
  4. It is used in pharmaceutical industry.
  5. Used as a feedstock to produce chemicals (more)  such as acetic acid and formaldehyde, which in turn are used in products like adhesives, foams, plywood subfloors, solvents and windshield washer fluid.
  6. Used for dehydration and de-icing in the oil and gas industry (More) Methanol is injected both continuously and intermittently. It prevents the formation of hydrates, mainly in offshore sources, and lowers the freezing point of water percentages during the oil and gas transport.
  7. Used in production of Resins like Plastic products, Paint, Solvents for the textile industry, antifreeze, Polyester fibers for clothing and carpeting, Producing ethylene and propylene as raw material of petrochemical companies, direct fuel for automobile engines.
  8. Denaturing agent : Traditionally, methanol is used as a denaturing agent added to synthetic ethanol to prevent its consumption.
  9. Waste water treatment :  Small amounts of methanol can be used in wastewater, as a source of carbon to bacteria converting harmful nitrates to safer nitrogen, thus reducing the dangers of nitrification
  10. Biodiesel: Methanol – and less commonly ethanol – can be used to produce biodiesel, in a reaction of transesterification of lipids (see figure). This product may be used in its pure form or blended with petroleum diesel.
  11. Water methanol injection: In some high performance internal combustion engines, a mixture of water and methanol is sprayed into the fuel or cylinder to cool the system down. In this case, the methanol is added to keep prevent the water from freezing. This system is known as anti-detonant injection, MW50 or simply methanol injection.
  12. Camping stove: As a final use for methanol, one for the great outdoors: as fuel for camping stoves. Methanol can burn even with an unpressurised burner, so this type of burner can have an extremely simple design, with low risk of malfunction.
  13. Methanol Derivatives Downstreams

Methyl Alcohol Characteristics

  1. Light.
  2. Volatile.
  3. Colourless.
  4. Flammable.
  5. Poisonous liquid with a distinctive odor that is somewhat milder and sweeter than ethanol
Appearance Clear and Free of suspended matter
Purity [Wt. %]
  1. 85 min.
Acetone [mg/kg] 30 max.
Color [Pt-­‐Co Scale] 5 max.
Water [Wt. %]
  1. 10 max.
Distillation Range [@ 760 mm Hg] Not more than 1°C including 64.6 +/-­‐ 0.1
Specific Gravity [@ 20°C/20°C]
  1. 791-­‐0.793
Permanganate Time [@ 15°C] 60 min.
Ethanol [mg/kg] 50 max.
Chloride [as Cl-­‐, mg/kg]
  1. 50 max.
Sulphur [mg/kg]
  1. 50 max.
Hydrocarbons Pass
Carbonizable Substances [Pt-­‐Co Scale] 30 max.
Acidity [as Acetic Acid, mg/kg] 30 max.
Total Iron [mg/kg]
  1. 10 max.
Non-­‐Volatile Matter [mg/1000 mL] 8 max.