News / Science & Technology

US Navy Develops Fuel from Seawater

U.S. Navy researchers say they've been able to power a model airplane using fuel derived from seawater. (U.S. Navy)
U.S. Navy researchers say they've been able to power a model airplane using fuel derived from seawater. (U.S. Navy)

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The U.S. Navy may have discovered a way to make fuel from seawater.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory say they’ve developed a prototype technology for the “recovery of carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.”

Using the technique, the Navy was able to fly a model airplane with an internal combustion engine using fuel from seawater, according to the Navy, which called the technology “game changing.”

The process extracts carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the seawater and converts those gases into “liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system,” according to the Navy.

Despite the success, the technology could be  seven to 10 years away from commercial viability, meaning the process would have to produce jet fuel at the price of roughly 78 cents to about $1.60 per liter, according to the Navy.

A Navy admiral responsible for fleet readiness and logistics told the UK’s Daily Mail that the Navy was in “very challenging times” regarding energy.

“We need to challenge the results of the assumptions that are the result of the last six decades of constant access to cheap, unlimited amounts of fuel,” he told the Daily Mail. “Basically, we've treated energy like air, something that's always there and that we don't worry about too much.”

Here's a video about the test flight:

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Comment Sorting
by: Big D from: Michigan
April 11, 2014 3:16 PM
This is exciting stuff, and I look forward to hearing any detail that lends credence to it.

I'm a little pessimistic about the DoD right now, as they're obviously caught up in the whole "save the planet from CO2" craze/y brought to us by the religious secularists.

Why else would they be trying to make bio-jet fuel? Why else would they build "next generation warships" powered by diesel engines (radiophobia)? Nuclear powered ships are a safe strategic advantage.

by: Marvin McConoughey from: Oregon
April 11, 2014 5:44 AM
I don't yet believe the claims made for converting sea water to fuel at an affordable price. If true, the potential goes far beyond of merely military value, but the details given thus far are not convincing. Sufficient technical detail must be presented in a verifiable format before the claims will attract widespread acceptance.

by: tin shein from: Yangon, Burma
April 10, 2014 3:22 AM
What a wonder to hear that the US Navy has succeeded in converting seawater into jet fuel! Keep up your research work so we won't need to depend on the ever-dwindling oil reserves around the world. If it succeeds in producing it on a commercial scale, the dependence of the US and EU on the crisis-striven Middle East will be over in the not distant future. Efforts should be made to shorten the time to be taken to put that fuel on the market in sufficient commercial quantities to reduce the production costs to manageable levels comparable to current oil prices.

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