Methanol and Gasoline Production

Methanol or methyl alcohol (CH3OH) is a colourless liquid with a boiling point of 65o
C. Methanol will mix with a wide variety of organic liquids as well as with with water and accordingly it is often used as a solvent for domestic and industrial applications. It is most familiar in the home as one of the constituents of methylated spirits. Methanol is the raw material for many chemicals, formaldehyde, dimethyl terephphalate, methylamines and methyl halides, methyl methacrylate, acetic acid, gasoline etc.Methanol and gasoline are produced from Kapuni and Maui natural gas (methane) by Methanex New Zealand Ltd around Waitara and New Plymouth in North Taranaki. Methane is steam reformed to make syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide), and this in turn is used to make methanol some of which can be used in methanol to
gasoline (MTG) production. For economic reasons the MTG plant was taken out of production in late 1996, but could be recommissioned if the economic situationwarranted it. In this article the overall layout and production steps at the Methanex plants will be described, followed by sections on the chemistry of methanol and gasoline production.