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Methanol vs. Ethanol
Callie Sterlingon 22 March 2013
Transcript of Methanol vs. Ethanol
The intoxicating effects of ethanol consumption have been known since ancient times
The first to mention absolute alcohol, in contrast with alcohol-water mixtures, was Raymond Lull
In 1796, Johann Tobias Lowitz obtained pure ethanol by mixing partially purified ethanol (the alcohol-water azeotrope) with an excess of anhydrous alkali and then distilling the mixture over low heat.
Ethanol was first prepared synthetically in 1825 by Michael Faraday Methanol was originally produced by the distillation of wood feedstock
Technological breakthroughs in the 1920s, and again in the 1970s, changed the process of methanol production, which today primarily requires natural gas feedstock
Natural gas is processed through several steps, including the use of catalysts, pressure and high heat, until it eventually emerges as liquid methanol
As of 2011, natural gas is the cheapest methanol precursor, but other high-carbon feedstocks such as coal can be employed to create liquid methanol The largest "feedstock" for ethanol production in the U.S. is starchy vegetable crops such as corn and sweet potatoes
After harvesting, the crops are sent for processing in either "wet-mill" or "dry-mill" plants
Both types of plants put the feedstock through grinding, reaction and distillation processes that yield pure ethanol alcohol at the end
Research is ongoing to produce ethanol from nonfood sources, such as wood chips, grasses and agricultural waste
As of 2011, this technology remains experimental and not commercially viable While the U.S. government formerly mandated the addition of methanol to gasoline in the form of MTBE, an additive that boosted octane, such use has been reduced since the late 1990s following federal recognition of MTBE's high potential for contaminating groundwater
As of 2011, methanol is not widely used as a combustion fuel, but it is being evaluated as part of experimental fuel-cell technologies The most common use of manufactured ethanol is as a vehicle fuel for internal-combustion engines
Most gasoline available in the U.S. is blended with 10- to 15-percent ethanol content
"Flexible fuel" vehicles can run on fuel with a very high ethanol content --- 85 percent ethanol to 15 percent gasoline, for example --- or even on pure ethanol
More than 13 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in the U.S. in 2010, and production capacity continues to rise
Though the energy content of ethanol fuel is lower than the equivalent volume of gasoline, tax incentives and government subsidies improve the economics of ethanol production How was society before methanol and ethanol? Positive and Negative Impacts on Society Other Uses for Methanol Resins
Miscellaneous Pure methanol was first isolated by Robert Boyle in 1661 when he produced it via the distillation of buxus (boxwood). However the ancient Egyptians used a form of it in their embalming process
Although unlike methanol, ethanol is not highly poisonous to humans, its utility as an alternative fuel is strongly debated
The annual use of over 5 billion bushels of corn for ethanol production represents a substantial fraction of U.S. crop production that would otherwise be used as food --- shifting crop focus like this has raised worldwide corn prices
In addition, some researchers calculate that ethanol manufacturing consumes more energy than it delivers in the finished product, leading to higher energy use and emissions