Methanol has long been, and continues to be, used to fuel various forms of transportation. From aircraft turbochargers to racecars to government and other fleet vehicles to passenger cars, methanol blends in particular have proven to be viable replacements for straight gasoline in the U.S. and around the world.
During the 1980s and 1990s, methanol-powered fleet vehicles were used in New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Japan and Canada. South Africa and Germany have both produced methanol from coal for local use. Europe in general has long permitted low-level methanol-gas blends, and in recent years the EU has increased methanol allowances in fuel, mostly for environmental reasons. Sweden is also exploring the conversion of biomass from forest products into fuel-grade methanol. In Iceland, renewable methanol is being manufactured from waste carbon dioxide at a geothermal power station.
However, the most ambitious efforts today are in China, which mixes more methanol into its gas supplies than any nation in the world. There, high oil imports and abundant coal supplies have encouraged widespread use of methanol to stretch oil supplies and limit fuel costs. One of the most commonly used blends is M15, a 15-percent-methanol variety of gasoline that works, with minor tweaking, in conventional engines. However, blends ranging to M100 are being sold—legally and illegally—throughout the country, and nationwide fuel standards are still being worked out. Meanwhile, smaller facilities to convert municipal waste into methanol are also being constructed and development of flex-fuel vehicles is being ramped up. Because U.S. automakers also manufacture cars for sale in China, it is likely that they will be forced to develop new flex-fuel models for that market.
- http://www.varmlandsmetanol.se/dokument/History VM June 11.pdf