A reader writes:
I don't want to be harsh, but the writer who suggested methanol doesn't know what he's talking about. Yes, methanol is a simpler molecule. Just one methyl group (CH3) makes it the simplest alcohol. Ethanol is next in the series, with an ethyl group (CH3CH2).
You can get methanol from many "feedstocks" for sure, but the process leaves you with a very crude product which must be extensively processed to extract a clean fuel. Generally, breaking down organic refuse to methanol requires heating the material to a high temperature in an inert atmosphere so that instead of catching fire, the cellulose is destructively broken down into a variety of smaller compounds such as Methanol. Even it's it pure state, Methanol is corrosive to metals common to your average engine and can break down into formaldehyde and formic acid if there are contaminant oxidizers present.
The beauty of Ethanol is that you let nature make it. Cellulose is a polymer (a long chain) of glucose, as is starch. Glucose is yeast food, and Ethanol is the waste product. While an efficient means of breaking down cellulose into its sugar components hasn't been perfected, once you have starch and sugars, the yeasts cleanly and completely do all the work in converting the feedstocks into a brew that can be distilled to extract 95% pure Ethanol.
One more thing: Methanol is highly toxic, an ounce or so, if not fatal, will destroy your optic nerves forever. Breathing the vapors is hazardous. Even skin contact must be avoided because Methanol is readily absorbed.
Methanol is no more a solution than Ethanol is - which it isn't. Ethanol is welfare for ADM.