Molecule of the Week

Methanol

March 11, 2013

Methanol (MeOH), the simplest alcohol, is widely used as a solvent, motor fuel, ethanol denaturant, and, most of all, a feedstock for manufacturing other chemicals. It was originally made by the destructive distillation of wood—hence, the once commonly used name “wood alcohol”.

Methanol is miscible with water and with almost every other organic solvent. It is colorless, volatile, flammable, and poisonous. During Prohibition, many people died from drinking methanol-laced liquor.

Methanol is an old chemical, but it still makes news. K. Rajeshwar and colleagues at the University of Texas, Arlington, recently developed a process that uses solar power to make methanol from CO2 .

More about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.