The Physics
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Energy Density of Methanol (Wood Alcohol)

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Caretto, Larry. September 11 Homework Solutions [doc]. Mechanical Engineering 694C Seminar in Energy Resources and Technology. California State University, Northridge. Fall 2002. "In a fuel cell, the maximum work is given by the change in the Gibbs function for the oxidation of methanol is 22.034 MJ/kg." 22.034 MJ/kg
Zittel, Werner & Reinhold Wurster. Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydrogen. HyWeb – the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Information System in the Internet. 1996.
Energy Carrier Form of Storage Energy Density by Weight (MJ/kg) Energy Density by Volume (MJ/l)
Methanol liquid 20.16 15.912
20.16 MJ/kg
Thomas, George. Overview of Storage Development DOE Hydrogen Program. Sandia National Laboratories. May 2000.
Fuel Mass Energy Density (MJ/kg)
Methanol 19.9
19.9 MJ/kg
Bossel, Ulf. The Physics of the Hydrogen Economy [pdf]. European Fuel Cell News, Vol. 10, No. 2, July 2003. "The Higher Heating Values are 22.7, 29.7 or 31.7 MJ/kg for methanol, ethanol and DME, respectively, while gasoline contains about 45 MJ per kg." 22.7 MJ/kg

Methanol, also called carbinol, methyl alcohol, wood spirit, or wood alcohol, is a colorless, poisonous liquid with very little taste. Its lack of color is an important hazard and often the strong smell of wood alcohol or kerosene is added so that workers will become aware of leaks and spills. Methanol is miscible with water and most organic liquids, including gasoline. It is extremely flammable, burning with a nearly invisible blue flame. Methanol has become a major feedstock for the synthesis of acetic acid and large amounts of methanol are consumed in the production of methyl esters. Methanol itself is employed as an extractant and solvent for many substances, and is sometimes blended with gasoline in cold weather to reduce condensation problems. It was formerly obtained from wood as a co product of charcoal production.

Ever thought what would happen if you drank a dose of methanol? You probably think no one would do it but if it happened for prolonged periods, methanol can cause blindness or death. It can also be absorbed through the skin.

Methanol's chemical formula is CH3OH. It has a molecular weight of 32.04 and boils at 64.7 °C and freezes at -97 °C. Energy density is measured by the amount of energy per mass. The standard unit for energy density is megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg). The energy density for methanol is around 22 MJ/kg.

Jenny Hua -- 2005