Instructables

making methanol

hi im looking to make some methanol i have heard you cna do this by mixing cabon monoxide and hydrogen but i have no idea how anyone got any ideas for making these and therefore being able to make methanol or other ways of making methanol cheers josh

aabraham62 years ago
can anyone tell me hw to really make it...i'm in need of it but it is nt available to buy around her...whatever ,,,even it is available ..i would like to make it....pls anyone TELL ME HOW TO MAKE METHANOL!!!
Qcks aabraham62 years ago
Get a steel barrel.
Fill it with wood.
Add a single copper pipe to vent the otherwise sealed chamber.
For the best yield, cool the copper pipe.
Heat the barrel up.
Like alot.
heating the barrel over a white hot fire for an hour or so is typically sufficient.

after the stil stops producing methanol, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
Once cold, you can open the barrel.
You'll have charcoal left as a by product.

If you want to use the charcoal it's self, it's a little bit more difficult, but can be done.
jpoopdog Qcks1 year ago
by adding small amounts of copper, zinc oxide and aluminium oxide, syngas, aka, hydrogen + carbon monoxide which is mostly produced when wood is pyrolized, will turn back into methanol. generally wood or anything really, directly turns into that and methanol equally apparently. by pressurizing the reaction around copper catalyst, often brass or copper tubing will be enough, the syngas will turn into methanol which overall increases the potential methanol production from somewhere like 30% to 70%.

Qcks jpoopdog29 days ago

Ah... I didn't notice this addendum when you made it a year ago....
I wasn't trying to be exhaustive when I made this reply, but you are correct, catalysts do improve yield. Still, the biggest issue when doing pyrolysis isn't catalysts, it's limiting reactants, and in this case, both hydrogen and oxygen are limited (hydrogen tends to be a bit more limited). Simply chewing or shredding your carbon source helps.

Zinc Oxide and Aluminum oxide both can donate oxygen to the reaction, though aluminum only does so temporarily. Aluminum oxide in the form of Zeolite tends to be the superior catalyst though because the 3d structure has a large surface area that tends to carry lots of air with it (and thus oxygen).

Zeolite plugs just prior to the copper condenser helps increase yield allot.

Relying on the catalytic properties of the brass/copper tubing as a catalyst site has mixed results. It's debated as to why exactly, but i think it's because it's only indirectly active I believe that the actual catalytic agent is Sulfur, which reacts with escaping hydrogen to form hydrogen disulfide, which then reacts with copper/brass tubing, allowing the carbon monoxide to form methanol. Different types of plants have varying sulfur content (high protein plants have more sulfur), and thus better reactions to purely copper/brass catalysts.

Ideally, once you stopped getting methanol out, you'd have a way to inject small amounts of steam into the lower portion of the crucible. The carbon would react with the water and you could drive the reaction to completion, or close to it. You'd have to watch the temperature though. This would cause it to dip during injection unless the steam was pressurized.

mdouglas121 month ago

Electrolysis would be the easiest way to produce hydrogen. A little water; some tubing and a couple balloons. Oh, and an extension cord with a cathode and anode. One side produces Oxygen, the other produces Hydrogen. The balloons will tell you which is which. The one that inflates the fastest is the Hydrogen. Best to do this in a VERY well ventilated area. Hydrogen gas is explosive, especially in an oxygen rich environment.

craftyv1 year ago
Just to let you know that 3 men in Queensland, this week, have been hospitalised with poisoning and possible brain damage from drinking methanol.
DANGER: Update. Three men died this week of home made Grappa using methanol. Don't do it, please.
At least in US it is legal to produce alcohol for fuel. It is not advisable to drink any denatured alcohol like methanol. There is a good book in the subject of producing alcohol: The Secrets of Building an Alcohol Producing Still by Vincent R. Gingery.
jpoopdog1 year ago
There are two extremely common forms of unconsumable alcohols, which can often be purchased in supermarkets everywhere ranging from USA, AUstralia, Europe and asia.

Denatured alcohol is ethanol contaminated with methanol , 95% eth - 5% meth
Its ethanol sold in an unconsumable form for use as fuel, without being elligible for liquor taxation.

Methylated spirits is the complete opposit, 90-95% methanol - 5-10% ethanol. Its essentially methanol, but has ethanol included to make it more volatile as a fuel, as well as also making the flame actually visible without the need for expensive non toxic alcohol like colourants.
Anything called wood alcohol, wood spirits, or wood anything, is always almost entirely methanol.

To produce methanol from carbon monoxide (or dioxide) and hydrogen, you force the gasses into a pressurized container containing copper, zinc oxide, aluminium oxide or all the above, heating the container to at around 250-300 celcius. the gas i think must be at 5–10 MPa. nearly all gas will be converted into methanol so long as slightly more than enough hydrogen is used, methanol will exit as gas which must be distilled (passed through a cold copper tube), to become liquid. this method incidentally produces 99% pure methanol.
RHytonen2 years ago
For those still asking why, a philosophical breakfast table conversation, about avoiding supporting the considerable domestic and international atrocities of oil companies cum self-sufficiency, VS: my avid retirement hobby of vintage go-kart restoration and road racing; turned to the possibility of homebrewing SMALL AMOUNTS of methanol (~5 Gal.) as it's actually a historically preferred, lower-heat @ higher-power (speed) in our (two-stroke ONLY, please!) motors.

As we learned, in use it has to be purged from the (mostly Al) motor & fuel tanks &system after every use, by running for a moment on gasoline (/oil.) The motors start a little harder, but run better, faster & cooler. The one necesary modification is larger carb jets and volume - a highly developed and profusely available modification and even mass produced carburetor model.

Anyway, the prospect of making even moderately runnable (low grade?) methanol, or even a rough methanol/ethanol mix; is a very attractive concept - enough for me at least to have stumbled on this discussion, which still has not been as specifically DIY as it could be - say, as distilling the more historically common ethanol is.

One wonders whether the mixture usually avoided in 'moonshining,' of methanol and ethanol, isn't the easiest way to homemake race fuel. Anyone ever try running a two-stroke on clumsily distilled moonshine (homemade ethanol, with *maybe* some methanol?) Has anyone modded their chainsaw, for instance, to run it? As I mentioned, methanol carburetors -and DIY modification lore- are READILY available in kart racing circles - as well as on lumberjack competition "hot" chainsaws, in those circles.

Or is it just not pure enough to burn as well as commercial methanol? (Or to burn at all?) Before it's intentionally watered for commercial or safety reasons, moonshine can be VERY high 'proof'.... and if one wanted it as pure as possible, producing a few gallons at a time for immediate use would be a very attractive prospect, as the other thing we know is that it 'deteriorates' (attracts water from the air) very quickly in storage.
lowtechlou2 years ago
do you think it is possible to combine both processess of distilation and ethanol and methanol....using wood dust or shavings, and some kind of sugar, water and yeast, first the fermentation process and distillation. after the ethanol and water have boiled off, the heat then burns up the left over mash and wood pulp producing the methanol.... im sure the only sticking point is the transitio between the 2 processess, and the water contaminating both...any thoughts, ideas, etc..
Qcks lowtechlou2 years ago
Ehh....

Processing things that way would be hard.

Ethanol fermentation requires alot of water.
Destructive distillation needs very dry material to work well.

Excessively wet starting material creates tar-like substances which do not process into anything very easily.

Ethanol mash is often used as animal feed, but another good use (if you don't have ruminant animals) is as feedstock for a bacterial methanogensis.

After the ethanol fermentation (called primary fermentation from this point on), most ethanol stock goes through a secondary fermentation process. This secondary process produces vinegar and other fatty acids. These fatty acids are used by bacteria to produce methane in a tertiary fermentation process.

It should be noted that most biological methanogenic activity is not parsed into three seperate process. Primary and secondary fermentation can take place in the same apparatus, and does lead to a higher yield of low weight volatile organic compounds (acetic acid, ethanoic acid, specifically. ), which is then converted to methane.

Either way, i do think secondary processing is needed to get the most energy out of our resources, but methanol generation isn't the best fit as a follow up to ethanol generation.
you could get hydrogen from a sciance experiment (dunno which one) and carbon monoxide from burning something i have no idea though
i think hydrogen could be made by alu and NaOH not sure bout CO though but need to know how to react them
simply dump some pure (=metallic) Na (sodium) into water, and push it down with a spoon or something equal, so the H2 doesn't burn. then you can collect it eg. in a test tube.
The sodium will cause an explosion when it hits the water. One of the by-products that willm be strewn around is caustic NaOH...sodium hydroxide...aka: lye.
Hmm not much more i can add to this except ye good ol spanner in the works. Well not really hopefuly more of a collaboration of data which has since been forggoten. Ok Fermentation being the easiest method just ask those naughty people behind bars they are master distillers :P on second thoughts don't. Potatoes being the Russian legendary method not to mention the countless others further refined by the Americans and countless other nations worldwide. Recent stories warn of methanol in orange juice and if fermented moreso? As for which ones better it depends on the application heres the spanner i was talking about. You have to use more ethanol in a transesterification reaction. Thankyou Journeytoforever and Joshua Tickel aswell as many others. Not knowing the scientific reason as to why in that case but it seems methanol has a bit more bite in that respect. Same story when you start storing or burning fuels and gases. Pure Hydrogen refuses to be compressed easilly it has to be tricked. See Acetelyne for mor information if it wasn't for the acetone forget it. See also the myth busters experiment using H direct into the carby. How can i put this simply just because it burns cleaner maybe hotter and or faster doesn't make it better per se. The more hydrogen it has packed in the more trouble you can expect if something goes wrong. Whereas weaker grades of alchohol like the bisodiesel reaction shows you have to use more. Same with consumption of pure ethanol for example to get it to do the same work as petrol you have to consume more calorofic content as mentioned prior has a two fold effect. Remembering mechanics from school whilst todays engines are slightly better at coping with ethanol some now are purporsely made to run on B90. But a lot of cars still don't like it a good comparison of this is a ten or more year old vehicle converted to LPG. Because it burns hotter and faster you start burning up valves even when changing to ceramic. Let alone the rest and as for diesel ethanol or methanol left over from a reaction if consumed will definately cause engine damage pitting of pistons and bore is likely and will eat away at rubber fuel lines rubber washers and allsorts. Be sure to recycle any left over residues extra reading can reduce your costs by utilising a more efficient process. This is why a lot of countries said a B20 blend for compliance and rebate reasons. Incidently look how dangerous the biodiesel process is Methoxide can and will kill it is highly toxic you have to wear proper PPE when working with such dangerous chemicals because it's caustic and let alone what the fumes might do if inhaled close quarters. I copped a wiff of hydrochloric acid in school ye old make the acid eat the bone experiment. My instant reaction was to get away because it burnt my nostrils and my eyes and that was a couple feet away but the smell wafted stupidly this experiment was not done in the vented classroom . That gives you an idea what acids are like even when being reacted the fumes will burn your airways no ifs or buts. Extreme caution is to be used doing this because often they recomend using sulphuric or hydrochloric acid for a cleanup or more active reaction eg in the case of working with high tallow ratio. Settling and scrubbing and other processes can remove any of these excess contaminants. Oh and before i forget the wood alcohol process is also known as syngas or hydrolisys i think but they mainly go for the carbon monoxide in that process and usually burn that or use it for further refining into nearly anything these days. This harks back to the war days when vehicles were made to run on coal or wood gas as was mains gas supply. The big collapsing tanks people remember which would fillup in off peak to be consumed during the day ect and some still exist are gasometers. Fascinating stuff but after reading all the hassle it requires there must be a better way. Well for diesel it would seem plantdrive.com has the right idea. *legal and safety disclaimer if working with the above mentioned dangerous processes and chemicals please read all hazmat information and protect yourself and moreso everyone around you. Last thing you want is to be dreaded like some backyard aphetamine lab going boom and having to evacuate neighbours and have quite some explaining to do afterwards. Also see what your laws are on production and storage and wether the EPA could be called into it eg spitefull neighbours. Not so much of an issue especially for own consumption but certainly if ever attempting to onsell lookout then it gets complicated consult your tax agent also. All these things have to be said even after so long after the fact. I missed my calling as an OCHS officer it's true lol. With all that in mind feel free to make as much tax free fuel as possible. Before the FEA come a knockin. Fuel Enforcement Agency lol the UK allready has a form of this in the way of dip testing. But thats mainly to catch out those using red diesel (rural) which is a non compliant lesser fraction of fuel i bellieve banned for metro use because of the smog ect produced. My guess for this logic is city driving diesels do a lot of stop starts whereas rural users to run they're motors hotter if that makes any sense hence burning this stuff up in a better way and having less of an effect on air polution. Think that covers it even though Cuba and others have run on ethanol for years i dare say it hasn't been without it's pitfalls.

That's a very detailed comment* for a question posted getting on for 4 years ago.
But I think you missed that he wanted to make methanol, rather than distill it out of home-brew.
Why I do not know, it's not hard to get hold of...

L

*Hit RETURN and break up text into paragraphs
caveman427 years ago
Hydrogen can be extracted from water using electrolysis. There is an instructable on this. However, this will not help you. Methanol is a byproduct of the fermentation process. I believe in the US at least that home brew methanol is illegal in most cases.
It is not illegal to produce methanol in the US. It is not a controlled substance. Methanol can be produced through fermentation. It can also be produced by introducing a specific enzyme to CO2, processing of natural gas or even properly combining of CO and H.

While some of these techniques can be hazardous, I've never heard of them being illegal. Perhaps you're thinking of Methamphetamines?
No, I was thinking of the distillation process. Methanol is one of the "waste" products created when alcohol is distilled. Since it is illegal to distill alcohol (unless you have the required permits), production of methanol in this way is illegal. I wasn't really aware of any other way to produce it.
aqwiz caveman423 years ago
Once again, your preconceptions get the better of you. You can make up to 50 gallons of ethanol per year for personal use without a permit.
Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a clean burning fuel additive, as well as an effective solvent. It is extremely flammable, so great care should be taken in making this substance.
.Difficulty: Moderately ChallengingInstructions.Things You'll Need:A still (a completely close-able metal unit that can be heated, and vapor distilled)
Wood
1º A distillery unit, or still, will be needed to hold the wood that you will be using to extract the methanol from. It should resemble the stills used to make liquor. It should be a closed system, with a place to insert wood and then be completely closed, with a pipe to catch the condensed vapor and transport it to a separate container.

2º Put the wood in the unit. The wood can be chunked or shaved, but the smaller the pieces of wood, the easier the methanol will be extracted from it. You will need to heat the unit, usually by open flame. This will superheat the wood inside, keeping it shielded from the actual flame, and so reducing the possibility of combustion.

3º The methanol will vaporize and rise up to the top of the still, where the cooler air will begin the condensation process. The condensed, liquid, methanol

Luis Filipe da Silva Santos
luisfilipesilvasantos@hotmail.com
As I have unused 3 kw of free electricity I wonder if I can use it instead of flame to heat a methanol distiller like this....?
....and... How much does the wood really have to be heated to extract methanol ?
aqwiz rutseg3 years ago
probably an efficient use of your extra power. Nearly as efficient: electrolysis/hydrogen storage to save power for later. I think the wood alcohol production is more efficient.
Raspy5 years ago
I too wish to know how to make methanol. Reason: It is used to make Biodiesel. Sure you can buy it. But I like to know how to make things myself. Yes I could buy diesel but would rather make my own of that too.
matoo5 years ago
Zn + H2SO4 ---> ZnSO4 + H2 Zn is the formulaic notation for the element 'Zinc' and H2SO4 is the formulaic notation for 'Sulphuric Acid'. These two react together to form ZnSO4 + H2, that is Zinc Sulphate and Hydrogen gas.
wesg776 years ago
this is such a great topic but i think you guys have it all wrong , the easiest way to get a nice big load of home made methanol is to pound rapidly on your or your neighbours purple headed snatchhatchet till it spews its goodness forth. enjoy
paulrich6 years ago
Can your still be used to make methanol? Isn't methanol a better fuel than ethanol, which is why it is used for racing? No. Methanol or "wood alcohol" was made in the 18th and 19th Century by "destructive pyrolysis", which is burning wood chips inside a closed chemical retort container in the absence of Oxygen. This process used 15 times more energy than contained in the end product of methanol, but they were interested in the methanol for other purposes, such as for paint thinners and other chemical needs. Actually almost any still will have small traces of methanol along with the high proof ethnanol. The triple distilling action of the Charles 803 still that I use, will remove most of the methanol, but that doesn't mean it is safe for drinking. If you want to build a still for drinking alcohol, there are a lot of smaller and cheaper stills you can build. The Charles 803 still is for making moderate quantities or ethanol for use as a fuel. You can make 5 to 8 gallons an hour of 180 proof. If you want to sell your fuel, this is probably too small a still for you, but it is nevertheless a good tool for learning about fuel productions and for experimenting with different feedstocks for fermentation. The thing is, you don't need super pure alcohol if you aren't drinking it. But for the sake of your engine, it is quite good to have high proof, triple-distilled alcohol as made in the still I designed. You may not have removed the all the methanol, but this is a good fuel, and burns clean. The fusil oils and various other impurities have mostly been removed, but any minor impurities will also burn, much cleaner than gasoline, with no carbon build-up. In fact, ethanol will dissolve build up carbon as it burns, so the end result is a clean engine. Now, as for the question, which is a better fuel, ethanol or methanol, ethanol is clearly the better fuel: it has 38% more available energy (86,000 BTU's per gallon for ethanol, while methanol only has 62,000 BTU's/gallon). Methanol is commonly used for racing as it is a cheap and easily available byproduct of the Natural Gas industry, and is cheaper than ethanol because they don't have to pay the distillation taxes. Ethanol is also used in racing, and the Indie 500 has used this fuel for over 80 years, now. Ethanol is less corrosive than methanol, and burns very clean, with only CO2 and water as the main byproducts of combustion (there is a slight amount of aldyhides in the exhaust, but it is 300% cleaner than burning gasoline.
lemonie7 years ago
Please Google "methanol synthesis". The answers are out there if you look (so I'm not going to tell you what I know about this). L
minus273degrees (author)  lemonie7 years ago
well im glad the rest of the people on this forum are more helpful
They're not being much help in actually telling you how to do this.

"Today, the most widely used catalyst is a mixture of copper, zinc oxide, and alumina first used by ICI in 1966. At 5–10 MPa (50–100 atm) and 250 °C"

From here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol
From here:
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=%22methanol+synthesis%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

L
LasVegas7 years ago
Methanol is not created by simply mixing Carbon Monoxide with Hydrogen. If it could be done with simple mixing, our air would be extremely deadly!
minus273degrees (author)  LasVegas7 years ago
i gathered this i read ti on a chemistry paper so there must be some conditions involved
500 centigrade, for a start.
westfw7 years ago
Methanol is usually (historically) made from destructive distillation of wood, thus the synonym "Wood Alcohol." All sorts of things that say "made from X + Y" are leaving out info on heat, pressure, catalysts, electrical discharges, and who knows what else. "Gasoline is made from dead dinosaurs" or "Ammonium Nitrates, used in the OK City Bombing, is made from Air and Water."