Two million fuel-cell cars will run on methanol by 2010 claims AMI

Methanol is considered by the world's major automakers to be an ideal hydrogen carrier for fuel cell vehicles. The American Methanol Institute (AMI) has estimated that by 2010, a fleet of two million fuel cell vehicles could demand over 880 million gallons of methanol per year, creating a need for expansion of the methanol refuelling infrastructure.

Given the expected increase in methanol production, transportation, storage and use, there will be a potential for accidental releases to the environment. Compared to crude oil or gasoline, AMI says methanol is a safer and more environmentally benign fuel, so that releases would be far less damaging to the environment.

AMI’s researchers found that a large methanol spill into a surface water would have some immediate impacts to the biota in the direct vicinity of the spill. However, in contrast to a crude oil ocean spill, methanol rapidly dissipates into the environment, reaching low concentration levels where biodegradation will occur quickly.

Under another scenario, if methanol were to leak from an underground storage tank, rapid biodegradation is expected to occur under both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) subsurface conditions. Hazards from gasoline leaks are greater than those of methanol, because gasoline and many of its constituents biodegrade slower and will persist longer in the environment.

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