Methanol & Energy

The energy sector is methanol’s fastest-growing market 

Marine Fuel

Methanol is a clean-burning marine fuel that can cost-effectively meet the shipping industry’s increasingly stringent emissions regulations. New environmental regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other governing bodies are requiring ships to decrease emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Interest in methanol as a marine fuel is growing globally, and methanol is being used in several projects and commercial activities worldwide. With its clean-burning qualities, methanol can reduce or eliminate these smog-contributing emissions, which can help improve air quality and related human health issues.

Lower Emission Vehicle Fuel

Methanol is being used as an affordable alternative liquid transportation fuel due to its efficient combustion, ease of distribution, and wide availability around the globe. Methanol is used in gasoline blends around the world at high volume percentages (50-100%), mid (15-30%), and low blends (3-5%). It is also a diesel substitute for heavy-duty vehicles. In China, increasingly stringent air quality standards support the adoption of methanol as a clean-burning vehicle fuel.

Methanol for Power

Methanol is a cost-effective, liquid fuel alternative for power generation, particularly in remote regions which use diesel and are not situated near gas pipelines. Only minor modifications and expenditures are needed to adapt existing power plants and associated infrastructure to accommodate methanol as a fuel for power.

Methanol is a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation than diesel and can help meet environmental regulations and improve air quality. Methanol also offers utility fuel flexibility. Power plants operating on diesel that convert to methanol can run on either fuel.


Light olefins (ethylene and propylene) are the basic building blocks to produce many plastic products. Olefins can be made from various feedstocks, including methanol, naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas, and ethane.

In recent years, demand for methanol in the production of olefins or methanol-to-olefins (MTO) has multiplied. The MTO process is cost-competitive compared to naphtha, and MTO demand is expected to continue increasing in China.

Dimethyl Ether (DME)

Dimethyl ether (DME) is a clean-burning fuel that is typically produced from methanol. It can be stored and transported like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). DME is being made on a large scale in China, where it is primarily being blended with LPG for household cooking and heating.

DME can also be used as a clean-burning substitute for diesel fuel, but this is not prevalent today. Commercialization activities are underway to support the commercialization of DME as a vehicle fuel in North America and Europe. 

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)

Methanol is used to produce methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), an oxygenate blended with gasoline to increase octane and reduce motor vehicle emissions. MTBE is an efficient, clean-burning, and cost-competitive gasoline component used in many world regions.

Thermal Applications

Methanol is a clean-burning fuel for thermal applications, including industrial boilers, kilns, heating furnaces, and cooking stoves. China has primarily driven growing demand for methanol as an industrial boiler and kiln fuel. Industrial boilers are used extensively to generate heat and steam for various industrial applications, and kilns are used to produce ceramics, dry tobacco, and different food items. Industrial boilers have traditionally been coal-fueled in China. Current environmental regulations in China accelerate their transition to cleaner-burning fuels (including methanol) that can reduce impacts on local air quality and related human health.