Gallery: US Navy Scientists Develop Process to Transform Seawater into ...


Feeling the pinch of high gas prices every time you fill up your car? Be thankful you’re not the U.S. Military. Tired of wasting so much of its budget on fossil fuels, the US Navy has led the quest for greener alternatives – and scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed a process that can transform abundant seawater into fuel for Navy jets. If the technology is rolled out their efforts could have a huge impact; in 2010 alone the Department of Defense shelled out approximately $11 billion on “operational energy,” the energy used by military forces in the execution of their field missions. That’s the equivalent of the entire budget of the state of Tennessee. And that doesn’t even include all the energy needed to power vehicles and military bases here at home.

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1 Comment

  1. otis11 September 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think this article is a bit misleading – they are not pulling energy out of the sea water itself, but rather USING energy that is created within the reactor of their ship to extract CO2 and H2 from the water and combining them through reduction and hydrogenation to produce hydrocarbons that are later used in their jets. This is a net consuming processes, albeit a carbon-neutral one in this case, assuming of course the power is coming from the on-board nuclear reactors commonly found on these systems. The goal of this research is to a) reduce the cost of these fuels, and b) allow them to circumvent the logistical issues associated with hauling them from site of production and refinement to site of use (typically in hard to access places like a war zone or the middle of the ocean)

    Although, this process can also be applied to making diesel fuel pretty easily. It would be interesting to see them make diesel fuel out of sea water and electricity, and at $3-6 per gallon it could actually be done afford ably, effectively ending our dependency on foreign oil and, if renewable energy was used, making the entire system carbon neutral without replacing any of our existing infrastructure.

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