By Joao Peixe
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington is working to develop a system that can produce jet fuel from seawater.
Last year the US Naval Military Sea Lift Command, the main fuel supplier to Naval vessels that are at sea, delivered around 600 million gallons to ships that were on the open water.
Refuelling is a very difficult and dangerous procedure when two vessels are at sea, especially if the seas are rough, or there is a storm, or even in the middle of a fire fight. Yet it is also vital as running out of fuel would be devastating to a naval ship in action.
The NRL has designed a system which harvests carbon dioxide and hydrogen, the raw ingredients of jet fuel, from the seawater. NRL discovered that gathering carbon dioxide from the seawater was far more efficient than getting it from the air because the concentration in seawater is 140 times greater. The hydrogen and carbon dioxide go through several processes to create olefins (a hydrocarbon), and then two more steps to turn the olefins into suitable jet fuel.
So far the lab tests have indicated that the process will produce jet fuel at a cost of around $3 – $6 per gallon. Now all that is needed is large scale tests on the open sea.