Could 'methanol economy' help power post-fossil fuel era? New American Chemical Society video

December 12, 2013

Could a simple molecule known as methanol become a key energy source for the post-fossil fuel era? 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner George Olah, Ph.D., and Surya Prakash, Ph.D., think so. Their promising alternative fuel concept, known as the "methanol economy," is the focus of the latest episode of the American Chemical Society's (ACS') Bytesize Science series, available at

"CO2 and hydrogen can be combined to make a very simple molecule called methanol ... it could be used in your internal combustion engine as a high-octane fuel. In fact, methanol is the fuel of choice for all race cars," explains Prakash, professor of chemistry and director of the University of Southern California Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. Olah and Prakash recently won a $1 million prize from the Israeli government for their research on the methanol economy.

In the video, Prakash explains why methanol could be a viable option to produce clean, renewable energy. "The beauty is that methanol can be made from recycled carbon dioxide and any kind of energy. ... Once we run out of oil and gas, mankind can keep on doing this forever. The CO2 recycling is also carbon-neutral," says Prakash. In a bonus video also available at, Prakash demonstrates how his team's "direct oxidation fuel cell" prototype can use methanol to produce electricity.
Subscribe to Bytesize Science on YouTube for more videos that uncover the chemistry in everyday life.

For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact

Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Renewable Energy Articles from Brightsurf:

Creating higher energy density lithium-ion batteries for renewable energy applications
Lithium-ion batteries that function as high-performance power sources for renewable applications, such as electric vehicles and consumer electronics, require electrodes that deliver high energy density without compromising cell lifetimes.

Renewable energy targets can undermine sustainable intentions
Renewable energy targets (RETs) may be too blunt a tool for ensuring a sustainable future, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Intelligent software for district renewable energy management
CSEM has developed Maestro, an intelligent software application that can manage and schedule the production and use of renewable energies for an entire neighborhood.

Renewable energy transition makes dollars and sense
New UNSW research has disproved the claim that the transition to renewable electricity systems will harm the global economy.

Renewable energy advance
In order to identify materials that can improve storage technologies for fuel cells and batteries, you need to be able to visualize the actual three-dimensional structure of a particular material up close and in context.

Illuminating the future of renewable energy
A new chemical compound created by researchers at West Virginia University is lighting the way for renewable energy.

Using fiber optics to advance safe and renewable energy
Fiber optic cables, it turns out, can be incredibly useful scientific sensors.

Renewable energy developments threaten biodiverse areas
More than 2000 renewable energy facilities are built in areas of environmental significance and threaten the natural habitats of plant and animal species across the globe.

Could water solve the renewable energy storage challenge?
Seasonally pumped hydropower storage could provide an affordable way to store renewable energy over the long-term, filling a much needed gap to support the transition to renewable energy, according to a new study from IIASA scientists.

Scientists take strides towards entirely renewable energy
Researchers have made a major discovery that will make it immeasurably easier for people (or super-computers) to search for an elusive 'green bullet' catalyst that could ultimately provide entirely renewable energy.

Read More: Renewable Energy News and Renewable Energy Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to