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US Navy reveals fuel made from seawater

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The US Navy has developed a radical new fuel made from seawater.

They say it could change the way we produce fuel - and allow warships to stay at sea for years at a time.

Navy scientists have spent several years developing the process to take seawater and use it as fuel, and have now used the 'game changing' fuel to power a radio controlled plane in the first test.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2599036/The-plane-powered-WATER-US-Navy-reveals-radical-new-game-changing-process-power-jets-boats-seawater.html#ixzz2yI11k8g4

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I thought it was April 1st again. Wow.

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Let the water wars begin!

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Will Joe public ever benefit tho?

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Well, even the Environmentalists gotta be on board for this. No more fossil fuels(if it's practical) and we lower the sea level at the same time!

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But... How do the big corporations make money from such an abundant resource with a technique that will cheapen as time goes on?!

We won't see this until theyve squeezed out every big dollar they can.

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But... How do the big corporations make money from such an abundant resource with a technique that will cheapen as time goes on?!

We won't see this until theyve squeezed out every big dollar they can.

And therein lies the problem, as always. Big oil will have to die out.

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Posted (edited)

So, this involves taking CO2 out of the air and breaking H2O into H2 and O2. The issue I see here is that you need energy to break the water to begin with, and to make a hydrocarbon from it, you're going to need a LOT of CO2. If a Destroyer burns 1000 gallons of fuel an hour, and carbon is assumed to be the heavier part of the fuel, AND if we understand that CO2 is about 1/3rd carbon by weight.... Then it can be guessed that the Destroyer would need to collect somewhere between 2500 and 3000 gallons of liquid CO2 per hour. And I just don't see that happening. CO2 is about 0.04% of the atmosphere. So probably billions of cubic feet of air per hour would need to be processed to create the Carbon for one ship. Which is like 1000 large air conditioners worth of air movement.

Seems very inefficient to me. I don't see it working on anything but a demonstration level for very long.

Any maintenace issues at all and your ship immediately runs out of fuel. Your ship takes damage to its air/water intake, refinery or generator and your ship either stops, or explodes.

Edited by DieChecker

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Posted (edited)

.... here's how they describe the process in the linked article:

The NRL process begins by extracting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater.

As seawater passes through a sepcially built cell, it is subjected to a small electric current.

This causes the seawater to exchange hydrogen ions produced at the anode with sodium ions.

As a result, the seawater is acidified.

Meanwhile, at the cathode, the water is reduced to hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide is formed.

The end product is hydrogen and carbon dioxide gas, and the sodium hydroxide is added to the leftover seawater to neutralize its acidity.

In the next step, the hydrogen and carbon dioxide are passed into a heated reaction chamber with an iron catalyst.

The gases combine and form long-chained unsaturated hydrocarbons with methane as a by-product.

The unsaturated hydrocarbons are then made to form longer hydrocarbon molecules containing six to nine carbon atoms.

Using a nickel-supported catalyst, these are then converted into jet fuel.

..... then the article ends with:

Drawbacks? Only one, it seems: researchers warn it will be at least a decade before US ships are able to produce their own fuel on board.

..... Seems like a great idea? It said you could burn this in any car right now too.

A decade isn't very long . . . anymore.

*

Edited by lightly
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Posted (edited)

.... here's how they describe the process in the linked article:

The NRL process begins by extracting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater.

As seawater passes through a sepcially built cell, it is subjected to a small electric current.

This causes the seawater to exchange hydrogen ions produced at the anode with sodium ions.

As a result, the seawater is acidified.

Meanwhile, at the cathode, the water is reduced to hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide is formed.

The end product is hydrogen and carbon dioxide gas, and the sodium hydroxide is added to the leftover seawater to neutralize its acidity.

In the next step, the hydrogen and carbon dioxide are passed into a heated reaction chamber with an iron catalyst.

The gases combine and form long-chained unsaturated hydrocarbons with methane as a by-product.

The unsaturated hydrocarbons are then made to form longer hydrocarbon molecules containing six to nine carbon atoms.

Using a nickel-supported catalyst, these are then converted into jet fuel.

..... then the article ends with:

Drawbacks? Only one, it seems: researchers warn it will be at least a decade before US ships are able to produce their own fuel on board.

..... Seems like a great idea? It said you could burn this in any car right now too.

A decade isn't very long . . . anymore.

*

That still sound ridiculous to me. They still would need to produce 1000 gallons of fuel an hour. So, I wonder how many gallons of seawater they would have to process to make that happen. Probably there is more CO2 in seawater then the air, but still it probably means millions, or tens of millions, of gallons of seawater treated each hour to power the ship.

Also there is Conservation of Energy to think about. You can't break water into hydrogen, and mix up hydrocarbons by the thousands of gallons without a bunch of electricity to begin with. The seawater needs to have a lot of energy put into creating the hydrocarbon fuel, which is going to bite off a big chunk of what was produced needed to produce the next 1000 gallons. So, probably you'd really need to produce 2000 gallons of fuel rather then 1000. Efficiency is a killer.

Basically this is just a proof of concept, which may be horrendously ineffective. The engineers may never get the technology to the point where it is even self supporting.

Edited by DieChecker

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Let the water wars begin!

Water wars? Over sea water?

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But... How do the big corporations make money from such an abundant resource with a technique that will cheapen as time goes on?!

We won't see this until theyve squeezed out every big dollar they can.

If the US Defense Department can make it work, I doubt they'll worry about big corporations. They certainly have plenty of motivation. They've already flown planes with their own blend of biofuel to reduce American reliance on crude oil.

In any case, I've never seen an energy company worried about a new source of fuel. They simply diversify into manufacturing that fuel too. And while there's plenty of sea water to use as raw material, the process may turn out to be expensive to scale up.

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Water wars? Over sea water?

People have died for less. Remember when everything use to run on oil?

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I had a physicis teacher onec tell me a great quote " Theres nothing from nothing and it leaves Nothing " Just dont blow this people, Without salt water we would not have anything to spray on the Aliens to Kill them off ! justDONTEATUS :tu:

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People have died for less.

Like what?

Remember when everything use to run on oil?

The Earth has a lot more sea water than oil.

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Will Joe public ever benefit tho?

The inventor of this technology was killed and it was buried about 8 or 10 years ago.

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Interesting concept. I hope their "proof-of concept" will be able to move forward.

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This is a tried and true technology that has been suppressed. Do a litlle creative search on google. Search for things like running a car engine on water or electralysis.

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If this proves effective and efficient, it will tip the balances of power all over the world. We will no longer be dependent on fossil fuel and oil producing countries will have to settle for oil being made into plastics and the like. If coastal plants could generate electricity for the country's power grid, oil no longer used for power plants could be made into gasoline for vehicles at a greatly reduced price, or perhaps the vehicles themselves could be converted to run on this process.

I will be curious to see the life expectancy of such a system as sea water is highly corrosive.

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Plus, imagine taking billions of tons of CO2 out of the ocean every year, and how that might stop Global Warming.

Or... How it might deprive the oceans of CO2, which all marine plants require, thus wiping out coastal plant life, thus wiping out coastal animal life, thus turning the oceans into a wasteland and probably killing us all.

Just a thought.

Anyway, I just don't see this technology being able to produce fuel at the required pace.

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Search for things like running a car engine on water or electralysis.

The "water car" is horribly stupid. It uses electricity to crack water into H2 and O2, and then burns those to provide motive force. But, you have waste in the H2 and O2 generation process, and in the storage process and in the reburn process. Whereas if you use an electric car, you go straight from electricity to motive force. A lot less wasteful. The only reason to have a electrolysis car would be for very rapid accelleration, or extremely long drive times.

Water Car = Electricity - Loss in producing H2 and O2 - Loss due to conpressing for storage - Loss to uncompress and burn fuel = Inefficient + Complex + Dangerous

Electric Car = Electricity - Loss of storage = Simpler + Elegant

People think a hyrdogen cell technology car would be fantastic, but they don't realize that it will be the Oil Companies who will be selling it to you. Initially they will sell it at a low profit margin, to get all those home producing people and small time producers out of the market, and then they will up the prices to make their super profits.

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If this is true there is a missing link in the article.

To produce this kind fuel, a lot of electric energy is required and I think the needed amount can be provided on

nuclear powered carriers without problems. As the target of the US marine is to get independed from oil, other

vessels than carriers have to be taken into consideration as well. Means, additional vessels for fuel production

are needed and these will be, must be, nuclear powered. So for my opinion, there is nothing "green" here with

this new type of fuel in any kind.

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Lets just hope its not from the same guy behind the Bloom Box which IMO is a hoax/scam.

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That still sound ridiculous to me. They still would need to produce 1000 gallons of fuel an hour. So, I wonder how many gallons of seawater they would have to process to make that happen. Probably there is more CO2 in seawater then the air, but still it probably means millions, or tens of millions, of gallons of seawater treated each hour to power the ship.

Also there is Conservation of Energy to think about. You can't break water into hydrogen, and mix up hydrocarbons by the thousands of gallons without a bunch of electricity to begin with. The seawater needs to have a lot of energy put into creating the hydrocarbon fuel, which is going to bite off a big chunk of what was produced needed to produce the next 1000 gallons. So, probably you'd really need to produce 2000 gallons of fuel rather then 1000. Efficiency is a killer.

Basically this is just a proof of concept, which may be horrendously ineffective. The engineers may never get the technology to the point where it is even self supporting.

You could be right DieChecker... I dunno. (maybe not completely right, but certainly not wrong lol;) The article does say that only a "small electric current" is needed . Salt acts as an electrolyte in water, making it much much much more electrically conductive than fresh water, allowing electrolysis to begin at very low voltages .

According to something I was reading earlier... as low as .2 volts ... 1.5 to 120 volts being enough to accomplish the electrolysis .

......... You are right about there probably being more CO2 in water than air.... according to this:

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-fueling-fleet-navy-seas.html

CO2 is an abundant carbon © resource in the air and in seawater, with the concentration in the ocean about 140 times greater than that in air. Two to three percent of the CO2 in seawater is dissolved CO2 gas in the form of carbonic acid, one percent is carbonate, and the remaining 96 to 97 percent is bound in bicarbonate. If processes are developed to take advantage of the higher weight per volume concentration of CO2 in seawater, coupled with more efficient catalysts for the heterogeneous catalysis of CO2 and H2, a viable sea-based synthetic fuel process can be envisioned. "With such a process, the Navy could avoid the uncertainties inherent in procuring fuel from foreign sources and/or maintaining long supply lines," Willauer said.

........... also this:

NRL has successfully developed and demonstrated technologies for the recovery of CO2 and the production of H2 from seawater using an electrochemical acidification cell, and the conversion of CO2 and H2 to hydrocarbons (organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon) that can be used to produce jet fuel.

"The reduction and hydrogenation of CO2 to form hydrocarbons is accomplished using a catalyst that is similar to those used for Fischer-Tropsch reduction and hydrogenation of carbon monoxide," adds Willauer. "By modifying the surface composition of iron catalysts in fixed-bed reactors, NRL has successfully improved CO2 conversion efficiencies up to 60 percent.

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"By modifying the surface composition of iron catalysts in fixed-bed reactors, NRL has successfully improved CO2 conversion efficiencies up to 60 percent.

I wonder if Iron Catalysts in a fixed bed reactor means Nuclear reactor?

I agree with the process that was described. That all has the ring of science to it. I simply am wondering if they can put enough devices onto a ship, or whatnot, to provide fuel fast enough to supply what a ship needs. And what the cost per device is over, say 10 year. If it takes 10 million dollars to outfit a small ship worth 2 million dollars, then obviously it is not worth it, even if you don't have to take on fuel.

If you have to fill 50% of your ships carrying capacity to provide for fuel, then again you would have to give up munitions or transport ability, or personnel quarters, and it might not be worth it.

I suppose it all depends on how much they can make in a certain amount of time with a standard device. Which would depend on how much sea water each device would need to collect to get the required CO2.

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