ATC PetrOil Company as a dominant producer, supplier, and exporter of Methanol in the Middle East, is located in Iran.
Iran holds the world's fourth-largest proved crude oil reserves and the world's second-largest natural gas reserves. Iran also ranks among the world's top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. The Strait of Hormuz, off the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz.
National Petrochemical Company (NPC) was established in 1963 to spearhead the development and policy-making for Iran’s petrochemical industry. Iran’s petrochemical industry is the oldest in the Middle East and in ethylene production, it is the second oldest after Turkey. During 1964-1977 Razi, Abadan, Pazargad, Ahwaz carbon black, Kharg, Farabi and Shiraz expansion projects were completed.
Iran as a prominent name in oil and gas industries has been producing Methanol in its enormous and well-equipped petrochemical complexes and has a superb capability for exporting this product.
What is Methanol?
Methanol is colorless alcohol, hygroscopic and completely miscible with water, but much lighter (specific gravity 0.8). It is a good solvent, but very toxic and extremely flammable. This simple single-carbon alcohol is a volatile solvent and a light fuel.
Methanol, also known as methyl or wood alcohol, is a colorless organic liquid at normal temperature and pressure (NTP: 72⁰F and 1 atm). Though correct, this description is a small part of what a handler must know and understand in order to transport, store, and use methanol safely.
Methanol is a remarkably useful material that means different things to different users. To some, methanol is fuel, to others, a fuel additive, to still others a chemical feedstock, a solvent, a refrigerant, or a component of antifreeze. Emerging applications of methanol
include its use as a source of protons for direct methanol fuel cell technology and as a turbine fuel for electric power generation.
The particular hazards of methanol that matter most to your facility depend in large part on how methanol is received and stored, how it is used, where it is used, and how much is stored and used at any given time. Failure to control hazards associated with a small amount of methanol can be problematic with virtually no consequence; loss of control of a large quantity can be catastrophic. Section 2 of this manual provides an overall view of methanol for both large and small quantity handlers, transporters, and users.
Five overriding considerations are important when handling methanol:
- Methanol is a flammable, easily ignited liquid that burns and sometimes explodes in the air.
- The molecular weight of methanol vapor is marginally greater (denser) than that of air (32 versus 28 grams per mole). As a result, and depending on the circumstances of a release or spill, methanol liquid will pool and vapor may migrate near the ground and collect in confined spaces and low-lying areas. It is expected that methanol vapor, being near neutral buoyancy, will dissipate readily from ventilated locations. Do not expect it to dissipate from non-ventilated locations such as sewers and enclosed spaces. If ignited, methanol vapor can flash back to its source.
- In certain specific circumstances, methanol vapor may explode rather than burn on ignition. Methanol containers are subject to Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE) when heated externally.
- Methanol is a toxin; ingestion of a small amount (between one and two ounces, approximately 30 to 60 milliliters) may cause death; lesser amounts are known to cause irreversible blindness. Do not swallow methanol liquid, do not breathe methanol vapor, do not walk in pooled liquid, and do not allow vapor or liquid to contact skin. Methanol absorbs through the skin and other tissues directly into the bloodstream.
- Methanol is totally miscible in water and retains its flammability even at very high concentrations of water. A 75v% water and 25v% methanol solution is considered to be a flammable liquid. This has important consequences for firefighting. Methanol is a chemical solvent, which has important implications for materials selection and also for firefighting.
The methanol molecule contains a single carbon and is thereby the simplest alcohol that can be derived from normal, saturated hydrocarbons – namely, methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), and propane (C3H8). The two- and three-carbon-derived alcohols are ethanol and propanol, respectively. The chemical names for alcohols come from the names of the corresponding hydrocarbon groups. Accepted naming convention drops the “-e” ending and adds “-ol.” Common alcohols – methanol (CH3OH), ethanol (C2H5OH), and propanol (C3H5OH) – have similar physical and chemical properties, but very different toxicity hazards. As the number of carbon atoms in alcohol molecules increases, the length of the straight carbon chain increases, the molecular weight of the alcohol molecule increases, freezing point temperature decreases, and boiling point temperature increases.
Alcohols are structurally similar to water. Some properties of alcohols, specifically of methanol, resemble properties of water. Both water and methanol are polar molecules. Table 1 lists the structural formulas, systematic names, common names, and solid melting and boiling point temperatures for three representative alcohols.
Methanol markets have changed during the course of the past 15 years as usage and demand patterns are continuing to shift. Evolving global economic, energy, and environmental realities will continue to drive the methanol market in the foreseeable future.
During the first quarter of 2008, crude oil prices spiked over $140 the U.S. per barrel. At the same time, natural gas (methane) prices (in the United States in particular) lagged behind crude oil prices. Use of food crops to produce ethanol fuel has been blamed in part for driving supply and demand of some staple food items. These circumstances provide an increased incentive to use methanol as a replacement for ethanol as a direct additive to motor fuel to reduce air emissions, and perhaps eventually as an alternate for gasoline in automobiles.
This may well become a major factor in supply and demand in both developed and developing countries, particularly for Asia.
Other new fuel/energy applications for methanol are emerging, such as methanol-fueled turbine engines, biodiesel, and direct methanol fuel cells. In addition, applications, such as wastewater treatment, are using increasing quantities of methanol for denitrification.
Globally, formaldehyde manufacture has accounted for about 40% of methanol demand for production of urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde resins, glues, and adhesives. These are used extensively as bonding agents in particleboard, plywood, and fibrous wood panels. Demand for these building materials has decreased sharply due to a downturn in new construction. At present, the distribution of methanol demand is changing radically. This is expected to continue during the next decade.