Methanol has gasoline additive future outside China – trade body

08 December 2011 02:16  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN DIEGO, California (ICIS)--Methanol’s potential to make the shift from chemical commodity to energy resource is highlighted by its suitability as a gasoline additive, Greg Dolan, interim CEO of the Methanol Institute, said on Wednesday.

Methanol is already commonly blended into gasoline in China and Dolan believes there are economical and environmental reasons why this could become a widespread practice in other regions.

In a cost comparison based on current US pricing, methanol is cheaper than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis. A blend of 85% methanol and 15% gasoline would cost $3.20/GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) (€2.40/GGE) compared with $3.45/gal for gasoline, which is the national average for unleaded fuel.

Dolan also said the natural gas discoveries in the EU, US and across the globe point to a glut of feedstock for methanol production, providing market stability going forward.

He highlighted the importance of having a range of feedstock options for any gasoline alternative to be viable. Two such options are coal, which is already the feedstock of choice in Chinese methanol production and which exists in plentiful supplies, and biomass.

Methanol produced from biomass would have greenhouse gas emissions comparable to those of ethanol, thus offering environmental advantages over gasoline. Further environmental advantages are the absence of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) and the lack of particulate matter. There are also reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulphur oxides (SOX).

In China, methanol already represents 7-8% of the transportation fuel pool. Until now this has been illegal, but the government has completed standards legislation for M85 (85% methanol) and is in the process of doing the same for M15.

China’s embracing of methanol as a fuel has been driven primarily by the associated cost savings for consumers and Dolan believes this could be echoed in the US and Europe.

Dolan was speaking at the 29th World Methanol conference in San Diego. The two-day conference ends on 7 December.

($1 = €0.75)

For more pricing intelligence, visit ICIS pricing

By: Ross Yeo
+44 208 652 3214

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