Hinterland Green

Thursday, September 10, 2009

U.S. Navy to Make Jet Fuel From Seawater

The U.S. Navy could be on to something big in its latest research project -- making jet fuel from seawater. Chemists at the Naval Research Laboratory hope to secure a cheap and steady fuel source for its fleet of jets by extracting dissolved carbon dioxide from seawater and combining it with hydrogen stripped from water molecules. Converting the CO2 and hydrogen into jet fuel could be done through a process known as Fischer-Tropsch, which typically starts with carbon monoxide and hydrogen and, using metal catalysts and heat, ends with a mixture of methane, waxes and synthesis gas (syngas), which can then produce fuel or plastic.

Fischer-Tropsch is expensive and energy-intensive, which often limits its usefulness. One of the few times it has proven economical was using solid coal to produce liquid fuel for World War II Germany.

Instead of coal, the chemists want to use the carbon dioxide dissolved in seawater (140 times the amount found in the atmosphere) and hydrogen stripped from water as the base materials for the reaction.

They also want to change the metal catalysts, switching from cobalt, which produces mostly methane, to iron, which drops methane production by 70 percent and increases the amount of syngas produced. Source: Discovery Channel

Photo credit: Discovery Channel
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