This section is about methanol fuel cells for our future. Since I have done this research I have never realized how important future fuels are. Methanol is a liquid fuel made form natural gas or renewable biomass resources. Methanol is the leading candidate to provide the hydrogen necessary to power fuel cell vehicles. The commercialization of methanol-powered fuel cells will offer practical, affordable, long-range electric vehicles with zero or near zero emissions while retaining the convenience of a liquid fuel. By 2004 they say or even sooner, fuel cells operating on methanol will power a variety of cars and buses in the U.S and worldwide.( www.mehanol.org)
Methanol is predoninantly produced by steam reforming of natural gas to dcreate a sythesis gas, which is then dfed into a reactor vessel in the presence of a catalyst to produce methanol and water vapor. Although a variety of feedstock’s other than natural gas can and have been used, today’s economics favor natural gas. Synthesis gas refers to combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen while a large amount of synthesis gas us used to make methanol, most synthesis gas is used to make ammonia. As a result, most methanol plants are adjacent o or are part of ammonia plants. The gas fed into another reactor vessel under high temperatures and pressures, where monoxide and hydrogen are came in the presence of a catalyst to produce methanol. Finally, the reactor product is distilled to purify and separate the methanol from the reactor effluent. (wwwadfc.nrel.gov.)
“(Washington, D.C., January 28) A study by the environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. finds far fewer environmental threats from using methanol in fuel cell vehicles, compared to gasoline’s use for internal combustion engines. In addition, a video presentation on methanol and the environment produced by the Public Interest Video Network will be premiered at “The Road to Fuel Cell Vehicles: A National Forum” being held on February 4th and 5th at the Hotel Washington in Washington, D.C” (www.methanol.org)
Methanol will probably be transferred from import terminals or production facilities by barge, rail, or truck to eventually reach retail outlets. While the alcohol fuel is a liquid at ambient temperatures and atmospheric pressures, the cannot be moved easily through the existing petroleum product market network.
“The world’s major automakers have all announced plans for the market introduction of fuel cell vehicles by 2003/2004. These fuel cell vehicles will require a source of hydrogen fuel. As a liquid fuel rich in hydrogen, methanol is the leading candidate to power tomorrow’s fuel cell cars and buses. A comprehensive needs assessment should be performed to determine how best to provide methanol fuel to an emerging market for fuel cell vehicles.” (www. The American Methanol Foundation”
From the information gathered it seems that methanol is the number one candidate for future fuels for leading car manufactures. It is also nice to know that the government has plans to figure In addition, this assessment will attempt to forecast methanol fuel direction and tools for consumer education efforts regarding the use of methanol in fuel cell vehicles.