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Methanol . April 4, 2005 Metabolism 1 Names of Team Members. Why Study this Topic. One of the simplest and one of the most important alcohols Has multiple uses Don’t mistake it with ethanol alcohols which are drinkable Can be used for industrial reasons It eases life. Background.

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April 4, 2005

Metabolism 1

Names of Team Members

why study this topic
Why Study this Topic
  • One of the simplest and one of the most important alcohols
  • Has multiple uses
  • Don’t mistake it with ethanol alcohols which are drinkable
  • Can be used for industrial reasons
  • It eases life
  • Definition
    • Methanol (methyl alcohol) is produced from the distillation of wood and is a clear, colorless, volatile liquid with a weak odor that is somewhat sweeter than ethanol
background cont
Background cont.
  • The chemical property is CH3OH
    • Forms a methyl group
      • The carbon bonded with three hydrogen’s creates the methyl group



H – C – O – H



background cont5
Background cont.
  • Uses of Methanol
    • Fuel
    • Windshield wiper fluids and de-icers
    • Antifreeze
    • Cleaners
    • Canned heat
    • Paints, Varnishes, Paint Thinners and Removers
  • First used by Egyptians by pyrolysis of wood
  • Robert Boyle isolated pure methanol in 1661
  • Jean-Baptist Dumas and Eugene Peligot determined its elemental composition in 1834
    • Introduced the word methylene to organic chemistry, from the Greek words methu, meaning "wine," and hyle, meaning "wood"
    • Methyl derived in 1840 from methylene, and then applied to describe methyl alcohol; shortened to methanol in 1892 by the International Conference on Chemical Nomenclature
chemical principles
Chemical Principles
  • Melting Point
    • -97.8OC
  • Boiling Point
    • 64.7OC
chemical properties cont
Chemical Properties cont.
  • Production
    • Synthesis gas is usually produced from the methane in natural gas rather than from coal
    • At moderate pressures (10–20 atm) and high temperatures (around 850°C), methane reacts with steam on a nickel catalyst to produce syngas
    • CH4 + H2O CO + 3H2
chemical properties cont9
Chemical Properties cont.
  • Production cont.
    • Carbon monoxide and hydrogen react on a second catalyst to produce methanol
    • Most widely used catalyst is a mixture of copper, zinc oxide, and alumina
    • At 50–100 atm and 250°C, it can catalyze the production of methanol from carbon monoxide and hydrogen
    • CO + 2H2CH3OH
chemical principles cont

Over several days, atmospheric methanol is oxidized by oxygen and sunlight to carbon dioxide

Methanol burns in air forming carbon dioxide and water

2CH3OH + 3O2 2CO2 + 4H2O

A methanol flame is almost colorless

Chemical Principles cont.
health and safety
Health and Safety
  • Methanol is toxic:
    • It metabolites formic acid and formaldehyde which causes blindness and death
    • Enters the body by ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin
    • If ingested, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
    • Fatal dose: 100–125 mL (4 oz.)
  • Treatment:
    • Injection of ethanol: it slows down the breakdown of methanol by the liver
heath and safety
Heath and Safety
  • Symptoms
    • Poisonous by ingestion or inhalation
    • May cause respiratory failure, kidney failure, and blindness
    • Skin contact can cause dermatitis
    • headache, dizziness, nausea, lack of coordination, confusion, drowsiness, followed by unconsciousness and death
pros and cons

Does not contribute to air pollution

Less toxic to plants and animals then conventional gasoline or diesel


Less flammable and safer to handle then gasoline

Made from renewable resources

Runs cooler then gasoline in vehicles

Pros and Cons
pros and cons cont
Pros and Cons cont.
  • Cons
    • Highly corrosive and has no lubricating qualities
    • Expensive to produce on a large scale
    • Freezes at a temperature that is reasonably reached by outside temperature, during winter

Baird, Colin; Gloffke, Wendy. Chapter 6. Chemistry in Your Life. W.H. Freeman and Company. New York, 2003

Consumer Energy Council of America. Alternative Fuels and Fuel Additives. (29, March 2005) Methanol. (29, March 2005)

EMBBS: Bringing PhysiciansTogether Worldwide. Methanol. (29, March 2005)