U.S. Navy successfully tests jet fuel from seawater process
Mike McLeodMaterials Sustainability Aerospace Naval Research Laboratory oil and gas slideshow
Naval researchers split seawater to create liquid hydrocarbon fuel for $3 per gallon.
While still in the proof-of-concept stage, the two-stage process extracts dissolved and bound CO2 from seawater at 92 percent efficiency. The carbon dioxide, along with the hydrogen by-product (H2), are then fed through a gas-to-liquid process that produces liquid hydrocarbons with a fuel-like fraction of C9-C16 molecules.
To test the process, the research team powered a radio-controlled P-51 replica with an unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine. At present, the U.S. Navy says its lab-scale E-CEM system is the first step towards scaling the technology into commercial modular reactor units.
“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”
According the team, the cost of producing jet fuel using the process is in the range of $3-$6 per gallon. And, provided they receive sufficient funding, they estimate the process could be commercially viable within the next seven to ten years.