Biomethanol, an alternative energy resource

Thebiomethanol it is a simple alcohol, obtained by dry distillation of wood, it is widely used as a solvent and fuel and in the production of formaldehyde. Currently, the classicmethyl alcohol(methanol) is produced through the hydrogenation of carbon monoxide operated at high temperatures (350 - 400 ° C) and controlled pressure (200 atm), the reaction is catalyzed by chromium oxide and zinc oxide.

As is clear, the production process of themethanolit requires a great deal of energy. Themethanolit is a liquidmobilewhich boils at 67 ° C, miscible in water and many solvents.

Methanol plays a marginal role in the energy sector but not when it comes tobiofuels. The industrial use of themethanolsees it used as a solvent for the production of methyl ethers of organic and inorganic acids, furthermore, by oxidation and in the presence of copper or silver, methyl alcohol forms formaldehyde.

In the energy sector, themethanolcan be further refined to obtainsynthetic gasolineor used for the production ofbiodiesel.

With the impending energy crisis, the need to replace oil withalternative fuelshas awakened interest in the energy use of methyl alcohol (methanol) and ethyl (ethanol); these fuels can be used to power gas stoves (see bioethanol fireplace) or in the transport sector where they can be used pure or mixed with petrol without too many engine redesign problems (see flex fuel engines); many studies see the use ofmethanolto replace hydrogen in fuel cells such as those mounted on Fuel Cell vehicles such as theHyundai ix35 hydrogen powered.

Until the 1970s, themethanolon the market it was obtained from synthesis (CO + H2) or fromnatural gas (methane). With the energy crisis and the need to break free from traditional energy sources, the production ofmethanolstarting frombiomass(that's why we talk aboutbiomethanol). When it comes to manufacturingbiomethanolit refers to complex reactions that occur through the biological treatment of waste substances.

THE Swedish researchers from the University of Chalmersthey started a project to producemethanol on a large scale, starting with water and carbon dioxide (CO2 + H2O) to use alcohol in the production ofbiofuel.

Methanol and ethanol
Given that the prefixBioassumes that the fuel in question was produced from organic sources, there is a big difference between biomethanoland bioethanol. Ethanol is the common alcohol, with formula C2H5OH (ethyl alcohol), it is obtained by fermentation of sugars or by hydration of ethene. The ethyl alcohol that we find on the market is denatured, that is, rendered ethanolundrinkableby addingmethanol.

Video: Alternative Energy. National Geographic (October 2020).