7 May 2021 Bulletin

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Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odour very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol (drinking alcohol). At room temperature, it is a polar liquid, and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethanol. Because of its toxic properties, methanol is frequently used as a denaturant additive for ethanol manufactured for industrial uses — this addition of methanol exempts industrial ethanol from liquor excise taxation. Methanol is often called wood alcohol because it was once produced chiefly as a by-product of the destructive distillation of wood. Methanol is produced naturally in the anaerobic metabolism of many varieties of bacteria, and is ubiquitous in the environment. As a result, there is a small fraction of methanol vapour in the atmosphere. Over the course of several days, atmospheric methanol is oxidised with the help of sunlight to carbon dioxide and water. [1]

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