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Product name methanol
Synonyms methyl alcohol
GOST no data
CAS 67-56-1

Methanol is a colorless, volatile, flammable and practically odorless liquid. Methyl alcohol is fully miscible with water, ethanol, benzene, diethyl ether, acetone. It is readily reacts with alkali metals to give hydrogen and corresponding methylates. Being treated with acids methanol forms esters. Interaction with ammonia in the presence of dehydrating catalysts results in methylamines. Methanol is intoxicating but not directly poisonous. It is toxic by its breakdown (toxication) by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase in the liver by forming formic acid and formaldehyde which cause blindness by destruction of the optic nerve. It enters the body by ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin.


Today, methyl alcohol is most commonly produced from synthesis gas (syngas). Natural gas (methane) is the most economical and widely used feedstock for syngas production, but in some cases other feedstocks can be used. Where natural gas is unavailable, light petroleum products or coal can be used in its place. Resulting process of conversion of syngas to methanol is shown below:

CO2 + 3H2 <--> CH3OH + H2O + 49.53 kJ/mol

H2O + CO <--> CO2 + H2 + 41.2 kJ/mol

Industrial process for methanol production includes four stages:

1) purification of natural gas from sulfur compounds by hydrogenation up to hydrogen sulfide which is absorbed with zinc oxide ZnO;

2) conversion of natural gas into syngas by steam-methane reforming (CH4 + H2O --> CO + 3H2). Methane can also undergo partial oxidation with molecular oxygen to produce syngas (CH4 + 0.5O2 --> CO + 2H2). The ratio of CO and H2 can be adjusted by using the water-gas shift reaction (CO + H2O <--> CO2 + H2), to provide the appropriate stoichiometry for methanol synthesis;

3) methanol synthesis itself. Process take place at 200-300°C and pressure 4-15 Mpa on copper containing catalysts. Reaction mixture contains 3-5% of methanol. After cooling and methanol condensation syngas is recycled. Resulting product contains methanol (94-99%), water, propanol, butanols, amyl alcohols, dimethyl ether and other admixtures;

4) methyl alcohol rectification;


  • about 40% of methanol is converted to formaldehyde;
  • large amounts of methanol were used to produce the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE);
  • to manufacture of methylmethacrylate, methylamines, dimethyl terephthalate, methyl formate, methyl chloride, acetic acid;
  • for pharmaceuticals production;
  • as a fuel additive for internal combustion engines;
  • as a denaturant for ethyl alcohol;
  • in direct-methanol fuel cells, which are unique in their low temperature, atmospheric pressure operation;
  • as an industrial and laboratory solvent;
  • as an antifreeze;

  • Manufacturer(s) JSC Novocherkassk plant of synthetic products
    Chemical structure of methanol

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