From Wikipedia: In the 1990s Nobel prize winner George A. Olah started to advocate the methanol economy and in 2006 he and two co-authors (G. K. Surya Prakash and Alain Goeppert) published a book around this theme. In these publications, they summarize the state of our fossil fuel and alternative energy sources, their availability and limitations before suggesting a new approach in the so-called methanol economy.
The basic idea behind the methanol economy is to use methanol (CH3OH) as a universal energy storage medium, not unlike hydrogen in the hydrogen economy of former fame. Interestingly 1 m3 of methanol contains more than twice the amount of hydrogen than 1 m3 liquified H2. It could be used as a fuel for transportation as well as the input material for fuel cells. Methanol is liquid so it can be transported and stored easily and is in fact already used on a a large scale (37 million tons per year). Methanol can be efficiently produced from natural gas, coal, oil shale or tar sands but also from biomass and agricultural waste. But potentially the most promissing application would be the recycling of CO2, even from the atmosphere itself. As always there are disadvantages as well.
[amazon.com] – Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, G. Olah
[wikipedia.org] – Methanol Economy
[wikipedia.org] – George Olah
[desertec-uk.org.uk] – Essay: Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, George A. Olah