Misinformation keeping methanol out of market: geologist

April 13, 2011 |

In Tennessee, energy consultant and petroleum geologist Gerry Calhoun says methanol produced from shale gas is a competitive alternative to ethanol in E15 blends that he claims has lower GHG emissions than ethanol and has no risk of competition with food.

At less than $1 a gallon and with over 200 million miles of blend testing in cars over the past 20 years in California, he claims that what is keeping methanol from the market is misinformation and strong lobbying by those who receive subsidies for ethanol blending and production.

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  1. Joelle Brink says:

    WARNING: Shale gas exploration and production is a major environmental and legal issue in Tennessee and is currently before the EPA.

    There are a lot of ways to make methanol, and let’s remember here that it’s commonly known as “wood alcohol.” The state’s current plan is to use waste wood chips as feedstock for the Genera production plant in Vonore TN. This plan will benefit the state’s forestry programs and create jobs.

    The shale gas method proposed here is only less expensive if the operators don’t add in the cost of the hundreds of lawsuits filed by Tennessee property owners and the current and future medical injury cases pending against them.

    Under current law, shale gas exploration and production companies can buy subsurface rights to private property without the knowledge or consent of the property owners. Often the first warning owners receive is the arrival of drilling equipment on their property

    Shale gas is produced by “frac-ing” or fracturing underlying rock formations by injecting diesel fuel and water under high pressure. The diesel and other chemicals have polluted the water table in the parts of the state where frac-ing was conducted region and caused widespread health problems.

    Under the current law, there is no way for property owners to prevent this. They only own the rights to the surface of their property, not to anything below the surface. Oil and gas companies can buy the rights to the underlying geology without the knowledge or consent of the owners.

    Property owners are typically left with contaminated water and ground soil, making it impossible to sell their homes and land, as well as mounting medical bills due to serious illness as a result to chemical exposure. Oil and gas companies get the “cheap gas.”

    It’s time to stop making Tennessee a Superfund site, the nation’s own private third world country. “Mountain-topping” for coal, the Kingston coal ash disaster, and now natural gas frac-ing are but a few of the Tennessee cases currently before the EPA, and now Big Business wants to eliminate the Agency altogether.

    All this for Wood Alcohol.

  2. Alex Kovnat says:

    Given the Fukushima nuclear disaster and now problems with “fracking”, it will certainly be a frutration if we abandon both energy sources. I believe nuclear power, with improved safeguards, is indeed very desirable given that we have to get our energy from somewhere. Regarding renewable energy sources such as windmills, mother nature will sooner or later throw showstopper issues in our faces if we try to meet all our energy needs with windmills or solar cell arrays.

    We should all hope there is some way we can continue to utilize fracking without causing environmental damage.

    As for methanol: The problem I see is that if we use natural gas as the raw material input, we might as well use compressed natural gas directly for vehicles such as pickup trucks, thus avoiding the inevitable inefficiency resulting from conversion to methanol.

  3. Gil says:

    CNG(Compressed Natural Gas), as an alternative to Methanol is incredibly less efficient AND more dangerous than methanol.

    Most of our Flex-Fuel vehicles already being sold to operate on the existing E-15 or E-85 Gasoline/Ethanol blends will also function on a M-15 or M-85 Gasoline/Methanol blends with little or no equipment modification. The same gasoline pumps and storage tanks can also be used. Any gas station can switch to Methanol overnight using the same storage and pumping equipment.

    An incredible amount of energy and equipment investment has to be used to compress the gas and then transport it to filling stations off the grid. Arguably, you have the same transportation costs with Methanol, but a vastly lower required investment in pumping and filling equipment, as well as vehicle costs, as current vehicles can not run on CNG, but will run on methanol/gas blends.

    Finally, there are safety issues. Every few days in the news, especially during heating season, you see news casts of CNG explosions & fires, costing many lives and countless millions in property damage. Methanol is not explosive, has a higher ignition temperature and is not easily burned in storage.

    When a Methanol fire does break out, it is without explosion and is easily extinguished with just plain water. It being an alcohol, is water soluble and the added water dilutes the methanol to a point when the fire simply self extinguishes. Gasoline on the other hand does not mix with water and will float on the surface of water and continue to burn.

    I could keep going on and on, but will stop here for now. Thanks for reading my post.