Navy Researchers Convert Seawater to Jet Fuel

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 03:45 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Navy researchers have announced that they have figured out how to convert seawater into CO2 and hydrogen, which could be used to make jet fuel.

Heather Willauer, a research chemist with the Naval Research Laboratory, made the announcement Tuesday at the Sea Air Space Expo near Washington. She projected that in seven to 10 years, the military will be able to use the jet fuel made from seawater to operate its jets, ships, and other vehicles, Defense One reported.

"It has to meet military specifications to go into a jet," Willauer said. "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."

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The fixed-bed catalysis process uses twice as much energy to turn the water into fuel when compared to how much it produces in terms of power. Catalysis uses chemicals, energy, and pressure to speed up the necessary chemical reactions. At this point, the fuel costs about $3 to $7 per gallon, which Willauer says should improve over time.

This could be a step toward reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

"The idea is really from a logistics standpoint, you're no longer dependent on foreign fossil fuel," Willauer said. "You can make fuel where and when you need, so you can stay on station, and it elevates that burden of cost of fuel, of carrying it to different parts of the world."

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