Methanol, also known as M85, is typically made from natural gas; though it is possible to produce it by fermenting biomass, this is not economically competitive yet. Because it is easier to transport natural gas to a distant market by converting it to methanol, which is a liquid at ordinary temperatures and pressures, than by chilling and liquefying it or by building a pipeline, some petroleum-exporting countries are looking at exporting their "waste" natural gas, by converting it to methanol.
However, most of the natural gas that goes into methanol in the United States is still domestically produced.
M85 is commonly used as an alternative motor fuel mixture consisting of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent gasoline. This fuel can be used only in vehicles manufactured for, or converted to, M85 use. The unleaded gasoline is added to assure luminosity and engine starts in cold weather. It takes about 1.7 gallons of M-85 to propel a vehicle the same distance as 1 gallon of gasoline.
There have been efforts to introduce M85 into widespread use in various markets, most notably in California, but no transportation network exists to sypport such an effort.