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Lexical roots

The word methyl alcohol has Greek roots. Methu means wine and hyel means wood. Methyl was derived from the word methylene in 1840 and was used to refer to methyl alcohol. In 1892, Methyl alcohol was renamed methanol by the International Association of Chemical Compounds.


Methanol is also known as methyl alcohol and wood alcohol. Methanol is a chemical compound with the formula CH3OH and is the simplest type of alcohol. This compound is produced by anaerobic metabolism of many species of "bacteria". As a result, there is a small amount of methanol vapor in the atmosphere. The methanol in the atmosphere is oxidized to CO2 (Carbon dioxide) and water by "oxygen" and sunlight after a few days. Of course, in the process of burning methanol, the same thing happens with the obtained materials, but much faster. In addition, the flame of methanol is colorless and we must be careful not to burn with its flame.

2CH 3 OH + 3 O 2 → 2 CO 2 + 4 H 2 O


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History of Methanol production

In "mummification" in ancient Egypt, a substance containing methanol was obtained from the thermal decomposition of wood. Pure methanol was first extracted in 1661 by Robert Boyle__ of wood. In 1834, the French chemists of the Jean-Babtist Association obtained a combination of its elements and also introduced the word methylene into "organic chemistry". In 1923, the German chemist Matthias Pierre produced methanol from synthesis gas (a mixture of CO and H 2 obtained from coke). In this process, "zinc chromate" was used as a "catalyst" and the reaction was carried out in harsh conditions such as 1000-300 atmospheric pressure and a temperature of about 400 degrees Celsius.

In the modern method of methanol production, catalysts are used that operate at low pressures and are more efficient, such as aluminum, zinc and copper. Today, the synthesis gas for methanol production is not obtained from coal as before, but from the reaction of methane in natural gases under a gentle pressure of 10-20 atmospheres and a temperature of 850 degrees Celsius with water vapor and in the vicinity of the nickel catalyst. The CO and H 2 produced under the influence of the catalyst react with a mixture of "copper", "zinc oxide" and "aluminum" to form methanol. This catalyst was first used in 1966 by ICI. This reaction takes place at a pressure of 50-100 atmospheres and a temperature of 250. C. Another way to produce methanol is by reacting carbon dioxide with excess hydrogen, which produces methanol and water.


Methanol is used in the preparation of other chemical compounds which, in return, generate thousands of other goods which we use in our daily lives such as construction materials, plastic, paint, polyester and all kinds of pharmaceutical and health products.  Methanol is also a clean and destructible fuel.  That’s why, because of its environmental and financial advantages, it is an attractive alternative fuel for cars, ships, home cooking and house heating source.

With a production of more than 20 million tons per year, it is used as a precursor to other commodity chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetic acid, methyl tertiate butyl ether, as well as a host of more specialized chemicals. Forty percent of the methanol produced is used to make formaldehyde, which is used in plastics, plywood, paints, and explosives. Dimethyl ether is a methanol derivative that is used as a propulsion in Atrocell sprays instead of CFCs.

Safety tips:

It is extremely flammable but does not catch fire at room temperature. Between methanol and metals such as potassium, magnesium, oxidizers such as barium perchlorate, bromine chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium, they will explosion potential if there is heat. Methanol reacts strongly with chloroform, dimethyl zinc, cyanide chloride, and nitric acid.

In the case of thermal decomposition, methanol is produced into carbon dioxide (CO2, CO) and formaldehyde. Methanol is a toxic substance. Its metabolite product, formic acid and formaldehyde, causes blindness and death. Methanol is much more toxic than ethanol. To change the nature of industrial ethanol and prevent it from being used as a beverage, some methanol is added.

It is dangerous to be constantly exposed to it and to use it without a protector (mask and gloves). If you drink it, you should contact your doctor immediately. The toxic effects of methanol begin several hours after ingestion.

it can be absorbed through breathing, skin, and drinking. It is dangerous to be constantly exposed to it and to use it without a protector (mask and gloves). If you drink it, you should contact your doctor immediately. The toxic effects of methanol begin several hours after ingestion. Therefore, rapid use of appropriate antidote can prevent permanent damage. The lethal dose of methanol is 100-125 ml. One of the antidotes to methanol poisoning is the use of ethanol injections, which slowly break it down in the liver so that these metabolized substances cannot be recombined. Symptoms of methanol drinking include headache, dizziness, nausea, imbalance, anxiety, drowsiness, and eventually anesthesia and death.

Physical attributions



Other names

Methyl alcohol, wood alcohol

Chemical Formula




Boiling point

64.7 ° C

Freezing point

-97.8 ° C


0.78gr/cm3 in 25 ° C


5.9×10−4 Pa s (at 20 °C)


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