Publication Detail

National Methanol Fuel Systems: A Transportation Fuel Pathway


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Sperling, Daniel (1982) National Methanol Fuel Systems: A Transportation Fuel Pathway. Transportation Research Record (870), 71 - 78

One set of opportunities for decreasing the transportation sector's dependence on petroleum is the substitution of methanol for gasoline. The potential for implementing the transition is investigated within the context of a development path. Elsewhere, the feasibility of methanol has been studied mostly from either a production or an end-use perspective. Here, a systems perspective is used to integrate methanol production, distribution, and end-use activities into a staged development path. The path chosen is one designed to simulate a rapid and large production buildup. The choice of a high-growth path accentuates future conflicts and therefore sets the framework for pursuing the two purposes of the paper: (a) to highlight the critical factors that affect the expansion of methanol fuel activities and (b) to identify key opportunities for hastening the transition to methanol fuels. A set of market penetration strategies is devised that best responds to constraints and opportunities, and specific government and industry actions are proposed to support these strategies. It is shown that technical, economic, and institutional barriers to efficient distribution and rapid market penetration may be overcome with a moderate amount of government support. That support depends, however, on the formation of a national consensus to support methanol as an alternative fuel. The implementability of a high-growth methanol path is addressed. The major concerns are examined in order to give policymakers and others an understanding of the costs and responsibilities government would have to assume in order to promote a rapid transition to methanol fuel use.