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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. It is also used for producing biodiesel via transesterification reaction.
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 oxidized with the help of sunlight to carbon dioxide and water.
derivation is chiefly by high-pressure catalytic synthesis from carbon monoxide and hydrogen; partial oxidation of natural gas hydrocarbons.
methanol ingested in large quantities is metabolized to formic acid or formate salts, which is poisonous to the central nervous system, and may cause blindness, coma, and death.