Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson0
US Navy To Step Into Science Fiction With Project To Use Sea Water To Make Jet Fuel
On the surface this might sound more than a little nuts but when you really stop and think about such an idea has some real merit, even if the navy’s fuel suppliers might not like it. After all if they could pull off such a concept it would greatly reduce the need for the navy’s aircraft carrier to head to port as often to refuel, or the expensive maneuver of refueling at sea, when instead they can use the very water around them to create the fuel they need for the planes.
Of course one would think that this is just too far-fetched of an idea to even be under serious consideration, but it seems that the scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL) are pretty confident that the concept is actually very doable.
According to the USNRL it is a matter of a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and then produce hydrogen gas (H2) from the seawater; which would then be converted into jet fuel using a “gas-to-liquid” process. Here’s the kicker though, they have already demonstrated the ability to reach the point where all they need to do is make the jet fuel.
They reached this point by using an electrochemical acidification cell which allowed them to get both carbon diocxide and hydrogen gas from seawater before converting the two into hydrocarbons; which is the precursor to jet fuel.
The USNRL said this in their general release of the project status:
In the first step, an iron-based catalyst has been developed that can achieve CO2 conversion levels up to 60 percent and decrease unwanted methane production from 97 percent to 25 percent in favor of longer-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons (olefins).
In the second step these olefins can be oligomerized (a chemical process that converts monomers, molecules of low molecular weight, to a compound of higher molecular weight by a finite degree of polymerization) into a liquid containing hydrocarbon molecules in the carbon C9-C16 range, suitable for conversion to jet fuel by a nickel-supported catalyst reaction.