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US Navy is turning seawater in to fuel


Posted on Monday, 14 April, 2014 | Comment icon 35 comments

Large ships may never need to stop to refuel again. Image Credit: Bradley J. Sapp / US Navy
The need for a more efficient fuel source for large ships has lead to a highly unexpected solution.
The fueling requirements of battleships and other large vessels has proven something of a bottleneck for years with ships such as the US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyer able to get through as much as 1,000 gallons of conventional petroleum fuel in the space of an hour.

Now the US Navy has come up with a solution that could have far-reaching consequences across the globe. Using a special type of catalytic converter it has been demonstrated that it is actually possible to create viable fuel out of nothing but seawater.

"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," said chemist Heather Willauer.

Not only could this technology be used to keep ships going indefinitely without ever having to stop to refuel but it could also see a wide range of other commercial uses within the next decade.

Source: Discover Magazine | Comments (35)

Tags: Seawater, Fuel

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #26 Posted by nohands on 15 April, 2014, 7:35
I th0ught nuclear p0wer can m0ve a ship .. N0w i kn0w it still needs fuel.
Comment icon #27 Posted by paperdyer on 15 April, 2014, 14:27
And therein lies the problem, as always. Big oil will have to die out. Big Oil will become Big Seaweed!
Comment icon #28 Posted by bison on 15 April, 2014, 15:56
This process is intended to produce fuel for jets, not to run a ship's engines. There are repeated references to 'jet fuel' and JP-5 (same thing) in various articles on this. If a ship's engines were to be powered, something close to 100 thousand cubic meters of seawater per hour would have to be processed. that would use up a great deal of energy in itself. They can't extract more energy than is put into the process, in fact they will get less out than was put in. This is based on the recognized laws of the conservation of energy. If these laws had been overturned, it would have been a huge r... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 15 April, 2014, 16:34
This process is intended to produce fuel for jets, not to run a ship's engines. There are repeated references to 'jet fuel' and JP-5 (same thing) in various articles on this. If a ship's engines were to be powered, something close to 100 thousand cubic meters of seawater per hour would have to be processed. that would use up a great deal of energy in itself. They can't extract more energy than is put into the process, in fact they will get less out than was put in. This is based on the recognized laws of the conservation of energy. If these laws had been overturned, it would have been a huge r... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by cyclopes500 on 15 April, 2014, 20:12
Lets say in theory the Co2 source came from a Coke powered boiler, and the steam from that same boiler was turning a generator etc. How much Coke (carbon) would you need to make 1000 gallons of jet fuel? I mean weight to weight not for energy required. I'm picturing something like a cross between the old Coaling ships that used to feed the old WW1 battleships, crossed with a supertanker, with a nuclear power plant in it. Possibly with its coke furnace funnel bolted directly into the system. Ship sails from its destination empty bar the coal in one hold, on the way its making the fuel and filli... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by DieChecker on 16 April, 2014, 1:05
This process is intended to produce fuel for jets, not to run a ship's engines. There are repeated references to 'jet fuel' and JP-5 (same thing) in various articles on this. If a ship's engines were to be powered, something close to 100 thousand cubic meters of seawater per hour would have to be processed. that would use up a great deal of energy in itself. They can't extract more energy than is put into the process, in fact they will get less out than was put in. This is based on the recognized laws of the conservation of energy. If these laws had been overturned, it would have been a huge r... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by DieChecker on 16 April, 2014, 1:11
I did find this.... http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/10/game-changer-us-navy-can-now-turn-seawater-jet-fue/ The process is extremely energy intensive at the moment (Defense One reported that it takes “twice as much electricity to convert the water into fuel components as the process yields in terms of power”), but scientists believe that within the next decade the process will become much more efficient. And this.... http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/04/08/dont-get-too-excited-but-the-us-navy-can-now-make-gasoline-from-seawater/ Of course, what we’d all like to know is, ... [More]
Comment icon #33 Posted by Orcseeker on 16 April, 2014, 13:14
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. I think you underestimate corporate lobbying power. How can one charge so much for a resource that can be s... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by DieChecker on 17 April, 2014, 1:12
It will have to remain a military secret. Did anyone read the articles where the military was bragging about how this would save a lot of money, and in so doing make waging war less expensive, and therefore allowing the US to field more ships and airplanes? When you have such a large military advantage you don't go giving that technology to the civilians, who are going to immediately sell it to the Chinese and Russians and Iranians.
Comment icon #35 Posted by taniwha on 17 April, 2014, 7:56
Like what? The Earth has a lot more sea water than oil. I doubt this technology will lead to peace.


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