U.S. Navy Developing Technology to Make Fuel from Seawater

U.S. Navy Developing Technology to Make Fuel from Seawater

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is currently working to develop technology “that sucks up the gases necessary to produce synthetic jet fuel ships right out of the water the ships tread.”

According to the National Journal, this research coincides with a Department of the Navy pledge “to cut petroleum use in the services commercial fleet in half by 2015, and produce at least 50 percent of its jets fuel using alternative sources by 2020.”

The method of production being tested by NRL would make the Navy’s aspirations realistic and “could transform naval operations.” 

NRL’s process “begins with a three-chambered cell that receives a stream of seawater in the central compartment.” The cell then “pulls a relatively pure and concentrated source of carbon dioxide from the sea water.” The cell captures “up to 92 percent of carbon dioxide from the seawater, which is 140 times higher in concentration than in the air.”

Hydrogen is made from this, and then the gases are turned into a chemical compound which “can undergo further catalytic conversion into a liquid that contains hydrocarbon molecules.” 

Prices for fuel made from seawater are estimated at $3 to $6 a gallon, “which is comparable to current prices for petroleum fuel.” 

NRL analytical chemist Heather Willauer says with “money and more time… seawater-sourced jet fuel could become a commercial reality in 10 to 15 years.”

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