A new MIT report on natural gas determines that natural gas to methanol is the best use of natural gas in transportation. The report calls for the introduction of an open fuel standard enabling cars to run on any mixture of gasoline, ethanol and methanol.
“A range of liquid fuels can be produced by thermochemical conversion of natural gas to a synthesis gas followed by catalytic conversion to the liquid fuel. These fuels include diesel produced by the Fischer-Tropsch process, methanol, mixed alcohols (methanol, ethanol and others), ethanol, gasoline and dimethyl ether (which, like propane, requires modest pressurization to remain liquid).10 Among these conversion processes, the only one that has been established at large industrial scale over a long period, with well established costs, is the natural gas to methanol conversion (for purposes other than transportation).
It is the liquid fuel that is most efficiently and inexpensively produced from natural gas.”
“[...] Methanol could be used in flexible-fuel, light-duty vehicles in a manner similar to present ethanol utilization with minimal incremental vehicle cost.11 The incremental cost relative to gasoline-only operation would likely be less than $300. These flexible fuel vehicles could be operated on various mixtures of methanol, ethanol and gasoline.
Presently flexible-fuel vehicles are not equipped to operate on methanol. Removing this barrier through the adoption of some type of open fuel standard would be needed for methanol use to be pursued on a level playing field.”