Indispensable Materials Part 12: Welcome to the Methanol Age

Just like the stone age and bronze age are remembered for the tools of their periods, our modern era may one day be known for one of the most widespread and instrumental chemicals of our time: methanol.

Also known as carbinol, methyl alcohol, and methyl hydrate, methanol is the simplest alcohol with properties similar to ethanol. Known colloquially as wood alcohol, its history extends all the way to ancient Egypt where it was extracted from wood through thermal decomposition and used in the embalming process. Today, it is considered one of the most useful industrial chemicals. As a clean fuel it is a promising alternative to traditional fossil fuels and major shipping companies are looking at ways to use it to reduce emissions. With so many applications, it’s no wonder the methanol industry is booming.

Worldwide there are over 90 methanol plants with a combined production capacity of approximately 110 metric tons. Demand in Asia has been growing steadily since the 1980s, with Asia-Pacific now the driving force of growth in the market. During that time, Samsung C&T has developed long-term relationships with both domestic and overseas chemical companies, becoming the largest domestic supplier in Korea. Take a look at the infographic below to learn more about the chemical that is defining an era.

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