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Task 4


Production of Alcohols and Other Oxygenates from Fossil Fuels and Renewables


The purpose of Task 4 (Phase 1) was to exchange recent information on the production of alcohols and other oxygenates between the participating countries, and to review various production methods with the view to identifying potential areas of future development and cooperative research programs. The alcohols covered under this task included methanol, ethanol and higher alcohols, and the oxygenates included ethers and other oxygen containing species that are of use as gasoline additives. The first phase of Task 4 was completed in 1989 with the publication of a final report.
The second phase of the Task was completed in 1995, with the publication of a final report, entitled: “Production of Alcohols and Other Oxygenates from Fossil Fuels and Renewables”, Final Report for Task 4 / Phase II.

The objectives of Phase 1:
  • To gather, classify and comment on various methods for alcohol production obtained from participants in this Task, or available in the literature, and to disseminate this data to the participants; and,
  • To obtain appropriate proposals for relevant developments in this field, and to identify the potential need for future evaluation, analysis and co-operative research programmes.
The objectives of Phase 2:
  • To investigate the natural gas supply, demand and price. This study covered the cost of natural gas production at remote sites around the world, and provided a historical look at natural gas reserves and resources. The study was conducted under contract with the firm of Jensen Associates, Inc. of Boston, Mass.
  • To perform a comparative economic evaluation of LNG, methanol and synthetic distillate production from natural gas and its delivery to three representative markets (Tokyo, Rotterdam and U.S. Gulf Coast). The study was performed under contract with the firm Jensen Associates, Inc.
  • To identify and quantify the greenhouse gas (and other) emissions to air from methanol and ethanol use as alternative fuels. This was a comprehensive view on the processes to make these alcohols from natural gas, coal and biomass, and provided data on emissions from start to finish. The study was performed under contract with Ortech Corporation of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
  • To compare the economics of methanol and ethanol production from biomass. The study was completed under contract with TDA Research, Inc. of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

The results from Phase 1 have been presented in a final report, which has been printed in 1990. This report is available to all IEA countries. The contents are: Methanol production from coal, natural gas and biomass, Production of methanol and higher alcohols, Transportation of methanol and other oxygenates, Ethanol production by fermentation, Culture of fermentation precursors, MTBE production, Biomass liquefaction.

In addition, the OA developed a series of models on methanol production and databases on methanol synthesis and methanol production facilities. All of these are available on request.

The output from Task 4 / Phase II was a series of reports, dealing with the topics identified above. The final report for Task 4 / Phase II is available on this web site. This final report also contains the conclusions of these studies and the Operating Agent’s recommendations.


Phase 1:

  • Canada
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • USA

Phase 2:

  • Canada
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • USA