Methanol is also known as wood alcohol or methyl alcohol. Renewable methanol is considered as the oldest form of methanol production. Usually, it is made from natural gas. Fermenting biomass is the alternative way of producing methanol. It is widely used in various sectors, including, transportation, chemical, wastewater treatment plants and other industrial uses. However, concerns about climate change, energy security, and air quality have raised questions about the production and use of natural gas.
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Renewable Methanol Market: Key Trends
Efforts are on to develop alternative fuels so that dependency on petrol is reduced. The demand for global methanol market is growing especially in transportation sector, as methanol consist of a liquid fuel that has demonstrated a successful displacement for diesel and gasoline. It is estimated that renewable methanol offers reduction in carbon emission ranging from 65 percent to 95 percent.
The largest use of methanol is in making chemicals. About 40% of methanol is converted into formaldehyde, and from there into several diverse products like plywood, paints, plastics, explosives, and permanent press textiles. Investments, government support & regulations, and environmental concerns are driving the increased acceptance of the global renewable methanol market.
Global renewable methanol is bifurcated into three categories on the basis of product type,
Formaldehyde (in 2014 major single downstream market for global renewable methanol, with approximately 21 million tons of methanol consumed for formaldehyde production i.e. 28% of global demand)
- Acetic acid
- Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
Major challenges for the renewable methanol market are high cost and low production, but advancements in technology and new innovations are likely to reduce the cost. The renewable methanol market is expected to witness robust growth in the near future.
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It is projected that in the future, the demand for renewable methanol will increase by over 100 million tons. The bulk of this demand is generated by China (world’s largest methanol consumer and producer). The U.S. is another significant dynamic supplier of methanol. By 2018, the US is expected to become a net exporter of methanol.
Renewable Methanol Market: Key Players
Some of the major companies operating in the global renewable methanol market are, Eastman Chemicals, Biomethanol Chemie Nederland B.V., BASF, Blue Fuel Energy, Petronas, and Celanese, Mitsubishi chemicals, Statoil, and Värmlands Metanol.