Methanol Emerging Uses


More recently developed industrial uses of methanol include adding it to wastewater effluent as a denitrification agent. Methanol speeds up the action of bacteria that convert nitrates in water to harmless nitrogen gas. Hundreds of wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. use methanol for denitrification.

Methanol is also sourced as a reagent and solvent in biodiesel production facilities. Biodiesel is diesel fuel that has been sourced from biodegradable materials (vegetable or waste oils) instead of petroleum. Biodiesel is made by reacting these vegetable or waste oils with pure methanol in the presence of sodium or potassium hydroxide catalyst. The chemical process is called trans-esterification. The objective is to convert fat molecules in the oils into an ester (biodiesel) and the remainder into glycerol, a byproduct that can be further processed and marketed.

Some of the newest applications of methanol are emerging with technological innovations, such as vehicle fuel cells, consumer electronic products, and methanol-fired turbine engines designed to produce electric power.

For more information on emerging methanol markets, technology and safety, please visit the Methanol Institute’s web site: