In this paper, catalytic reduction of formic acid to methanol with different catalyst under mild hydrothermal conditions was investigated. Formic acid was successfully converted into methanol using Al as reductant and Cu as a catalyst under mild hydrothermal conditions. The selectivity of conversion from formic acid to methanol was found to be as high as 30% at 300 °C for 9 h with formic acid 60 gL-1, filling rate 35% and 4.35 mmol Al and 12 mmol Cu. The addition of Al2O3 was favorable for the synthesis of methanol. Comparing the yield of methanol with the same reaction condition for 3 h without the addition of Al2O3, the yield of methanol can be increased by near 100 per cent under the same condition with Al2O3 3 mmol. This process may provide a promising solution to provide methanol as fuel for transportation and mobile devices.