Methanol (CH3OH), or methyl alcohol, is a colorless form of alcohol with many practical applications. Methanol is also known as wood alcohol because it was derived from wood distillation in the past.
Of all the compounds in the alcohol group, methanol has the simplest molecular structure. At room temperature and pressure it exists in polar liquid form. This form lends its use to many applications including solvent, denaturant, fuel and as a component of antifreeze.
Today it is synthetically derived from carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. It is also produced organically from the metabolism of bacteria and is found in trace amounts throughout the environment.
Researchers have found many applications for methanol in the clean and renewable energy sectors. It can be used as a replacement for diesel, it is used in the production of bio-fuels and it is an appealing alternative to common fuels such as gasoline.
Methanol burns cleaner than fossil fuels and a majority of other energy sources. This makes it an appealing choice as an alternative fuel source. Its appeal comes from the simplicity of the compound.
It is high in hydrogen and lacks carbon to carbon bonds, creating less harmful emissions than other fuels when burned. As the energy crisis becomes more relevant each day, scientists are looking at sources like methanol for cleaner energy.