Methanol - General Background
Methanol is a pure alcohol whose chemical formula is CH3OH. Methanol appears as a colorless liquid, allowing it to be transported and stored. Methanol is produced mainly from natural gas, but can also be produced from renewable sources such as municipal waste and carbon dioxide emissions.
Methanol is used as a raw material and solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, in the manufacturing of plastic products, building materials, resins, paints and more. In addition, methanol is used as a fuel substitute for various uses, such as fuel mixture for transport and even for the production of energy and electricity in the industry.
The availability of methanol is high and because of its low price compared to other fuels, it serves as an effective substitute for conventional fuel worldwide.
Thus, for example, in 2016, in China alone, 7 million tons of methanol were used for transport purposes, which constitutes about 5% of the fuel basket that year. Methanol is found to be safer and less dangerous to human health because it does not contain carcinogens.
Because methanol is a pure liquid without contaminants, it can be transported and stored in the existing fuel infrastructure without the need for new investments. Its combustion products are carbon dioxide and water only, so it is not only an easy substitute for fuels but also environmentally friendly and cleaner than natural gas.
Methanol Mixtures as a Substitute Fuel for Transportation
In recent years, a number of experiments have been conducted in Israel to use Methanol as fuel or fuel component. For this purpose, various vehicle models were tested completing a two million kilometer run. In a unique collaboration, Dor and the infamous Fiat Chrysler Group launched the Fiat 500-M15, a vehicle powered by M15 fuel (a mixture of 15% Methanol with Gasoline) and adjusted for Euro 6 regulations. The fuel is expected to be sold at attractive prices to consumers at various gas stations throughout the country in the near future.
The success of the project was reinforced and in joint efforts with various ministries: the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Transportation, the Standards Institute and the National Authority for Substitutes of Fuels, the first national standard for M15 fuel was prepared and published (IS 90 Part 4).
Dor Group continues to expand its knowledge in order to implement the Methanol economy also as a substitute for diesel fuel for heavy duty vehicles such as trucks and buses. The development is being carried out in cooperation with leading automobile manufacturers worldwide. A solution of 100% Methanol propulsion (M100) will bring significant environmental benefits, since the main air pollution from transportation is due to the emissions of vehicles powered by diesel.
Methanol as a Clean Fuel Substitute for the Production of Industrial Electricity
In recent years , the first project of its kind in the world has been held in Israel - the use of methanol as a substitute for diesel for the production of electricity. Starting 2014, in view of the need to increase the reliability of the electricity supply to the city of Eilat and in order to reduce the emission of pollutants from the station that operated until then by diesel, the power plant in Eilat was converted at a capacity of about 50 megawatts to operate on methanol. Compared with the combustion of diesel fuel, methanol burning is cleaner and its main advantage is the reduction of 80% nitrogen oxides (NOx). In addition, methanol does not contain sulfur, so no sulfur oxides are emitted from the plant (SO2) and the amount of particles released during combustion is low to negligible. The power station in Eilat operates today on methanol 24/7 and provides a stable and reliable electricity supply to Eilat residents and tourists visiting the city.
In addition, factories in Israel located in industrial areas far from the national gas pipeline and are required to reduce emissions have begun to convert their steam boilers which operatie on fuel oil to a dual operation that enables the use of methanol which is cheaper and cleaner, as well as other fuels. This dual operation allows factories to comply with the environmental regulations.
In addition to the environmental advantages, these plants also enjoy economic advantages, since methanol is cheaper than other fuels, and conversion to it can be done in a simple and inexpensive way, using the existing infrastructure in the plant.
Methanol as a Clean Fuel Substitute for Marine Transportation
Another area where methanol is used is marine transportation. In light of the increasing regulation on air pollution from vessels, mainly in the North Sea and the Mediterranean basin, shipping companies have begun to look for more suitable and economically viable fuel substitutes.
For example, Stena company has diverted the ferry fgoing rom Gutenberg in Sweden to Kiel in Germany to operate on methanol. As part of the project, which is supported by the European Union, the 24-MW Wartsila shuttle engine was converted to methanol by replacing the fuel pumps and the injection system only. The project contributed to a 60% reduction in NOx emissions and a reduction of smoke particles by 90%. In addition to Stena, other companies such as Mitsui and MV Lindanger also launched methanol-powered vessels.
These projects demonstrate the effectiveness and feasibility of methanol as a cheap and available fuel substitute, which can be used in a wide range of applications. The fact that methanol is an available and clean liquid fuel, enables the conversion process to be carried out in a simple and inexpensive manner, utilizing the existing transmission, conveying and storage systems without the need to make other large investments.
The unique experience and know-how accumulated in Israel in these and other projects can make it a significant factor in the world, leading the industry, and thereby promoting innovation in the industry and creating high-quality jobs. In addition, methanol production can increase the volume of domestic uses of natural gas instead of exporting it to other markets, thereby helping the State of Israel reduce the dependence on the import of crude oil based fuels and increase its energy security.