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Old 09-24-2008, 02:36 PM
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Default Methanol

Didn't want to hijack the VEESS thread but this was going to be my response to the mention of methanol.

(might be a re-post to older forum members)

One of the biggest realism misses that the T2k rules has is the use of methanol. I know it might be a necessary addition to allow for game mobility but it is not realistic.

Methanol is not produced in any significant amount by any natural biological organism like ethanol is. Biological organisms can produce methane and formaldehyde, which need to be chemically oxidized or reduced (respectively) to produce methanol. Not easy to do in the field.

Until the 1930s methanol was primarily produced as a by product from the destructive distillation of wood. Did you ever do an experiment in school where you burned wooden sticks inside a glass tube and measured the output. That is similar to the destructive distillation of wood.

Distillation of wood produces the following:

Yield per ton (1 000 kg) of air dry wood
Acetic acid 50 kg
Methanol 16 kg
Acetone and methyl acetone 8 kg
Soluble tars 190 kg
Insoluble tars 50 kg

Given that gives you about 20 Liters per ton processed you can see that methanol is not an efficient option.

Methanol currently comes primarily from Petroleum refining so in the T2k world the prospects for any large scale methanol production looks bleak as you need 25 cubic feet of natural gas to make one liter of methanol.

There is a new, more efficient, high heat and pressure method of methanol production, but again it is not something that could be done in the field. It can actually produce 650 liters per ton of biomass but it would require a ton of energy (as it requires total gasification) and a small refinery sized facility.

The T2K suggestion of a simple farmer making methanol from wood or agricultural waste using the same still that makes ethanol does not match reality.

Last edited by kato13; 09-24-2008 at 02:46 PM.
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