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Old 09-24-2008, 01:36 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 01:46 PM.
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Old 09-24-2008, 05:50 PM
Grimace Grimace is offline
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Default

Well that's an interesting tidbit of information. Thanks for sharing that! I'd never done enough research into the subject to ever pay that much attention to it.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:04 PM
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My morrow game does not have vehicle sized fusion plants to my teams could benefit from being able to make fuel (in addition to using fusion to charge batteries). I looked at a ton of science behind making alcohol and biodiesel. You actually need pure alcohol to make biodiesel so that became a focus. Methanol is actually the most expensive part of making biodiesel. And making ethanol 100% pure is very difficult without the right equipment (beyond a standard still)

Hopefully I will have a full organic fuel generation system spec-ed out sometime in the year or so. It will be VERY different from the standard T2k rules.

Last edited by kato13; 02-27-2009 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:14 PM
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Damn. So is it ok if I plead "ignorance" here? Hehe...this realism sucks for the game. :P

But seriously cool of you to educate us with the information though. I would have kept thinking of wood as a feasible fuel source.
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Old 02-27-2009, 07:50 PM
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I believed the methanol manufacturing stuff until I was researching something unrelated and unraveled it. I guess GDW heard "wood alcohol" and took it literally.

Your group of 100,000 should be able to make ethanol from wood. I just wont be as easy as the book has methanol being produced. If you can manufacture sulfuric acid for pre-processing the wood, you should be able to do it. Or you can say someone genetically engineered a cellulose processing yeast before or during the early stages of the war (which is something they are working on now).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulosic_ethanol has more information than I can type here.

Unfortunately I do not have realistic production numbers for an improvised manufacturing facilities yet.

Last edited by kato13; 02-27-2009 at 08:08 PM.
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