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 can be produced from CO and H2 (Syngas)
- CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2
- 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)