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Methanol molecule

Methanol, CH3OH, is the simplest alcohol. It is commonly used as a building block for other chemicals, such as formaldehyde, acetic acid, and dimethyl ether. Like ethanol and other alcohols, methanol is toxic and highly flammable.

Methanol is a liquid carbohydrate, thus capable of storing large amounts of energy. In a settlement on Mars it has the potential to play a central part of energy management. Additionally, it can be used as a resource for making other carbohydrates, to feed methanotrophs or to produce synthetic materials.

In Situ Production

Methanol can be produced on Mars from CO and H2 (Syngas)

CO + 2 H2 → CH3OH (Copper-based catalyst[1] at 200–300°C and 3.5–10 MPa, )

CO and H2 can be produced from methane and water:

CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2

CO can also be produced from CO2 via high temperature electrolysis in a MOXIE or chemically using the Bosch reaction:

CO2 + H2 → H2O + CO

H2 can be obtained from water electrolysis :

2H2O → 2H2 + O2

Methanol can be produced directly from methane, however no process for this has reached industrial level efficiency. The most common production method is from syngas.


Methanol can be used to produce a large number of hydrocarbons and other chemicals.

When combined with methane it is a possible precursor for aromatic hydrocarbons such as ethane and toluene.