Although it is toxic
, the human body
can handle low concentrations of methanol
with no ill effects. (Methanol is present in many cooked vegetables
, and the artificial sweetener
in diet soft drinks
breaks down into methanol during digestion.) Methanol becomes poison
ous only when it overwhelms the body's capacity to remove it.
Methanol is used in a number of consumer products, including paint strippers, duplicator fluid, model airplane fuel, and dry gas. Most windshield wiper fluids are fifty percent methanol.
Large amounts of methanol are also used in the creation of formaldehyde which is used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and preservative for biological materials.
There are 18 methanol production plants in the United States with a total annual capacity of over 2.6 billion gallons per year. Worldwide, over 90 methanol plants have the capacity to produce over 11 billion gallons of methanol annually. The global methanol industry generates $12 billion in economic activity each year, while creating nearly 100,000 jobs.
Emissions from methanol cars are low in reactive hydrocarbons (which form smog) and in toxic compounds. Methanol-fueled trucks and buses emit almost no particulate matter (which cause smoke and odor, and can also be carcinogenic), and much less nitrogen oxides than their diesel-fueled counterparts.
Methanol is much less flammable than gasoline and results in less severe fires when it does ignite.
Methanol is a high-octane fuel that offers excellent acceleration and vehicle power. It reduces tailpipe emissions and lowers our dependence on imported oil.