Methanol (CH3OH) Handling Design, Loading, and Installation.

Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, has the chemical formula of CH3OH. In the early 20th century it was also referred to as wood alcohol because it was once produced by the distillation of wood. Today it’s mainly produced industrially by hydrogenation of carbon monoxide.

Methanol is a simple alcohol, consisting of a methyl group linked to a hydroxyl group.
It’s a light, colorless and flammable liquid with a distinctive odor, similar to ethanol or drinking alcohol except much more toxic.

In the United States, Methanol is typically a “tight-fill” (closed-loop) loading operation and is loaded into rail cars via loading arms. Methanol, if not handled properly can be fatal and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required. Additionally, because operators are on top of the vehicles during the loading process, fall prevention is essential, not only for safety but increases throughput.

Methanol is typically transported via barge, tank truck, ISO or up to a 30,000 gallon DOT-111A100W1 unpressurized general service tank car. The rails cars themselves are designed for pressure relief in order to accommodate thermal expansion during transit, similar to transporting ethanol, gasoline, jet fuel, and other distillates. The tank cars typically have a 9′ outside diameter with an overall length of ~47′, with a 6’ x 6′ or 8’ x 8’ centered crash box.
Tank truck (un)loading procedures are similar to railcar applications with the trailers meeting established DOT requirements for hauling methanol or like commodities. Approved DOT trailers include MC 300 thru MC 312, MC 330 and MC 331. All trailers must be equipped with pressure relief valves; and trailers with bottom outlets must be equipped with remote controlled stop valves. Air pressurization of the tanks (air padding) must never be used for methanol unloading.

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