News / Science & Technology

    US Navy Lab Turns Seawater Into Fuel

    US Navy Lab Turns Seawater Into Fueli
    X
    George Putic
    May 21, 2014 4:39 PM
    For centuries, alchemists have tried to turn lead into gold. That transmutation has long been proven impossible, but another similar dream - turning water into fuel - seems to be achievable. Scientists at a U.S. Naval Laboratory proved it by flying a model airplane burning re-engineered seawater. VOA’s George Putic has the story.
    US Navy Lab Turns Seawater Into Fuel
    George Putic
    For centuries, alchemists have tried to turn lead into gold. That transmutation has long been proven impossible, but another similar dream - turning water into fuel - seems to be achievable. Scientists at a U.S. Naval Laboratory proved it by flying a model airplane burning re-engineered seawater.

    Natural gas and liquid fuels, burned in all kinds of internal combustion engines, are chemical compounds of hydrogen and carbon, coming mostly from underground reserves.

    Oceans also are huge reservoirs of hydrogen, though, and - increasingly - carbon dioxide, or CO2. Dissolved in seawater from the air, it makes the water more acidic.

    Extracting those chemicals from the ocean and converting them into a form of liquid fuel was made possible by some recent technological advances, according to U.S. Navy researcher, Dr. Heather Willauer.

    “We've been actually able to show that we can recombine CO2 and hydrogen in the laboratory on a lab-scale, laboratory scale, into a liquid-type fuel,” she said.

    The process requires a lot of electrical energy, which - to be economical - has to come from a cheap source, such as a nuclear power plant.

    Economical electric energy

    Obviously, the most efficient place to do it would be aboard a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Willauer said these ships may someday manufacture their own jet fuel.

    “Well, it is a game-changer potentially for the Navy or commercial entities because you can make fuel potentially where and when you need it,” she said.

    The new fuel was tested successfully on a model airplane with a two-stroke engine. For now, making it requires twice as much power as the fuel can produce, but researchers hope to lower that ratio.

    Willauer said the new process will not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.

    “Once we've pulled it out of seawater, the ocean is ready to pull it back in from the atmosphere, 'cause it's in constant equilibrium. So what we hope is it's a carbon-neutral footprint,” she said.

    Scientists hope a small scale industrial plant may start converting seawater into fuel within the next 15 years.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Remy C from: Weston, CT
    May 27, 2014 7:25 AM
    "cheap source of electricity, a nuclear power plant"? You gotta be kidding me? Tell that to Japan, to the Ukraine, which just about had their entire economies destroyed by nuclear accidents!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    June 02, 2014 11:16 AM
    And yet, the US Navy operates over a hundred nuclear reactors every day, has for years, and hasn't had an accident...

    by: John Bates from: Spring Valley, Ca 91977
    May 23, 2014 9:28 PM
    Amazing how she is taking credit for the original inventor, (over six years ago), John Kansas who was looking for a cure for cancer.
    In Response

    by: Greg from: Atlanta
    May 26, 2014 8:58 AM
    I don't see where she took any credit at all. The closest she came to taking credit was, "We've been actually able to show..." In this article no invention credit was given or taken.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora