- The pros and cons of methanol include the fact that this gas is created naturally in landfills and agricultural facilities where manure is abundant
- Methanol can be created from natural gas or biogas, making it very flexible and versatile as an energy source
- Using methanol to meet the industrial energy needs may be effective in some situations and locations
The pros and cons of methanol in industrial energy use are both important considerations, and should be carefully evaluated. Methanol may also be called methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, and this substance is produced in a process which converts methane gas into the fuel methanol. One of the cons of using this energy for industrial uses is that almost all of the methanol created in the United States, and many places around the world, is created using natural gas as the starting ingredient. This does not have to be the case though, because biomass can produce biogas, which can be used in place of natural gas in the process. There are a number of landfills and facilities that are designed to generate and capture biogas, and some larger agricultural facilities and commercial animal farms use anaerobic digestors, or other equipment and processes to turn manure and agricultural wastes into biogas. This can then be used to generate methanol, or to provide heat and generate electricity and power which is used for the benefit of the facilities. If biogas is used as the starting point instead of natural gas, methanol can be considered a renewable alternative energy source for industrial utilization, and this con can be turned into a benefit.
When the pros and cons of methanol are being evaluated, it is important to note that this fuel offers more compression and a higher efficiency, as well as a higher octane rating of one hundred, than gasoline does. One of the drawbacks that this fuel has though is that it can be very corrosive, which means that traditional materials would not work for methanol. Instead, storage facilities and delivery equipment and methods would require materials that were more resistant to corrosion. This could lead to higher expenses and costs, which would in turn be passed on to the consumer. The infrastructure in place that is used for oil and gasoline transportation and delivery would usually not be sufficient without some changes. The pros and cons of methanol should include the fact that this fuel is much lower when the BTU content is compared to gasoline and other fossil fuels including coal, which gives methanol a lower energy content. One of the disadvantages of this fuel is that when methanol is burning the flame is invisible, which can cause safety hazards. Another drawback is that methanol does release carbon emissions during the conversion process, and this can cause environmental harm and an increase in the effects of global warming.
When the pros and cons of methanol in industrial energy use are examined, this energy and fuel source shows great promise but can be improved, and these facilities may not be ideal for all locations and situations. Whether methanol is the best option will also be determined by the feedstock used. If a fossil fuel such as natural gas is used, then the methanol created is not an alternative renewable energy source and may not be ideal for large scale industrial use. If biogas which has been captured is used as the initial feedstock though, the methanol created can be considered a renewable energy source and may be ideal for industrial use. The pros and cons of methanol when compared to other alternative energy sources will vary depending on the specific technology involved. Methane gas is a byproduct of decomposing organic material, or biomass, and the Environmental Protection Agency has a Landfill Methane Outreach Program in place to capture these gases from landfills, and other places, instead of allowing them to be released into the atmosphere. Once captured, this biogas can be used for industrial energy needs.
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