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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.

Methanol synthesis

Methanol can be produced from CO and H2 (Syngas)

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 is obtained from the splitting of water:

2H2O → 2H2 + O2

Synthesis of methanol:

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