Eco-friendly Jet fuel from sea water

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Did you know that a large portion of the military budget is consumed by expensive aviation fuel? The US Navy which has been facing cash crunch due to the rising fuel prices.

To overcome this problem, the research wing of the US Navy – US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) after years of experimentation has come up with a novel method to produce Jet fuel from seawater.

Eco-friendly Jet fuel from sea water

Research on converting sea water to jet fuel

Transforming sea water into fossil fuel seems like a science fiction story come true. So how exactly does this process happen? The main abstract of this research is that the carbon dioxide from the seawater is extracted.

This is subjected to an electrochemical reaction that converts the carbon dioxide to hydrogen gas through an acidification process.This is a two-step process involving the reduction and hydrogenation of the carbon dioxide using a catalyst that converts the gas into hydrocarbons.

The apparatus is similar to the one used in Fischer-Tropsch reaction for reducing and hydrogenating carbon monoxide. Lead researcher Dr. Heather Willauer, who has played a key role in the production of this fuel claims that the reactor bed clocks an efficiency rate of 60%. About 92% of recovery has been reported from the experiments so far.

The whole reaction can be summed up as CO2 + H2 = Jet Fuel

The basic reaction is now being tested onsite at the NRL’s Key West facility where a prototype has been generated. This skid captures seawater from the ocean and produces hydrogen gas, ready for consumption. Trials are underway to determine the efficiencies and feasibility of the prototype. Once this is successful, the carbon capture skid will be subjected to optimization and scale-up processes.

The three main advantages of this fuel would be:

  1. The jet fuel thus produced would have very low cost of raw material and would be priced at $3 to $6 per gallon.
  2. The raw material required is available everywhere, especially to the naval operations and hence easy to obtain.
  3. Sea water is loaded with as much as 140 times more carbon dioxide than air.

Now only time will tell if this jet fuel will be out in time to save us from the dwindling oil resources and burning fuel prices.

photo credit: (inhabitat.com)

Filed Under: Science & Technology

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