Announcing a major breakthrough, Navy researchers for the first time have converted seawater into CO2 and hydrogen, which could be used to produce jet fuel within a decade.
In the next seven to ten years, the military will be able to run jets, ships, and other vehicles on a fuel derived from seawater, according to Heather Willauer, a research chemist with the Naval Research Laboratory or NRL.
“It has to meet military specifications to go into a jet,” Willauer said, at the annual Sea Air Space Expo near Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “We haven’t actually made it to the specifications stage yet. But we know we’re in the hydro-carbon region and it shouldn’t be very difficult to meet that specification.”
The breakthrough, though impressive, does not mean that we will be filling jets and ships with seawater in the very near future. The fixed-bed catalysis process Willauer and her team used to recover the hydrogen and the CO2 from the seawater is highly energy-intensive, requiring almost twice as much electricity to convert the water into fuel components as the process yields in terms of power. Catalysis is a process that combines chemicals, energy and pressure to accelerate chemical reactions. At current energy pricing, the cost of the fuel is between $3 to $7 per gallon. Willauer says the numbers should get better in the years ahead.
With a stable and, hopefully, clean electricity source, seawater-based fuel could reduce dependence on oil or other polluting fuel sources, first in the military and then elsewhere. “The idea is really from a logistics standpoint, you’re no longer dependent on foreign fossil fuel,” said Willauer. “You can make fuel where and when you need so you can stay on station, and it elevates that burden cost of fuel, of carrying it to different parts of the world.”
What We're Following See More »
"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."
"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."
"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."