Methanol is a type of alcohol. While ethanol (a more popular alcoholic fuel) is derived from grains such as corn, methanol is made from wood, coal and natural gases.
Methanol burns at a lower temperature than gasoline because it is only composed of one chemical (versus gasoline, which is composed of several). This makes a vehicle with both gasoline and methanol safer during an accident because methanol will slow down the burn.
MPG and Power
When compared to gasoline, methanol has about half the energy. This doesn't mean it has less power, but that it gets fewer miles per gallon. Methanol mixed with gasoline will have lower MPG than pure gasoline.
Commercial vehicles don't run on pure methanol. Modified vehicles, called flexible fuel vehicles (FFV), operate on a 85 percent methanol and 15 percent gasoline mix.
Currently, few cars can run M85 and few stations offer the mixture. Perhaps this will change in the future, but until then M85 vehicles can seem impracticable.
With gasoline diminishing as a natural resource, scientists are looking for other fuels for commercial vehicles. One of these fuels, called methanol, is added to gasoline and has both pros and cons.