Methanol Plants Don’t Explode


There are some ignoramuses (that’s a fancy word for people who don’t know very much) standing at the corner, holding a sign asking if you are in the blast zone. It’s a message that they don’t want the methanol plant.

I googled “methanol plant explosions” and I got no hits. That’s because methanol plants don’t explode. They can’t explode. It’s simply not possible.

Now, there are cases of empty methanol tanks exploding, and people getting hurt or killed, but these are the tanks that hold methanol. Any fuel can explode if you mix in air and provide some heat. That’s why when you do something like weld a methanol tank, you empty the tank, wash it out with water, and then work on it. See, methanol is extremely attracted to water. If you want to neutralize it, all you need is plain old water. And methanol in water is basically harmless and totally non-flammable.

Let’s talk very briefly about how a methanol plant works. Basically, natural gas is heated up and put through a process to break it down. Then, sealed off from air, it is further processed with such dangerous chemicals like water. In the end, you get nearly pure ethanol, which you store in tanks. Provided you never mix air in there (which you can’t, otherwise you won’t get methanol, you’ll just get flames) then the methanol can’t explode. It can’t ignite. There is nothing to burn it. You could drop a lit match into the tank of hot methanol and exactly nothing would happen, except for a few flames near the opening where you dropped the match in. Well, something would happen — the match would be smothered.

Anyway, I shouted out the open window “Methanol plants have never exploded and they can’t!” And the friendly lady said, “It’s not the methanol, it’s the natural gas.” By that measure, we should stop using natural gas altogether.

The methanol plant will bring in countless jobs and opportunities. It will bring in tax revenue. It is far, far cleaner to make it here than anywhere else in the world, so we will actually reduce pollution in places like China by making it here. And what pollutants will it make? Basically, nothing, except carbon dioxide, which is plant food, which will make our area even greener. Since there is no correlation between global temperature and carbon dioxide, but there is a correlation between plant life and carbon dioxide, I think it’s a good trade.

Anyway, don’t let ignoramuses make your decisions for you. Building the plant here is the right thing to do. It will make us a ton of money, reduce the pollution in China, and make our environment even better.


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