Admiral Alchemy: US Navy Turning Seawater Into Jet Fuel

US Navy Jet Taking Off

(image via: Mateus)

In the ever-increasing energy crisis, it’s becoming more and more important to find alternative fuel sources. While the most common types of alternative energy studies seem to be focused on solar engery and biofuel, there are a few less-mainstream ideas floating around out there. One that the US Navy is exploring is how to make jet fuel out of seawater. Sound crazy? It’s entirely possible, though whether the end product would actually wind up being carbon neutral is still up in the air.

US Navy Jet in Flight

(image via: Tidewater Muse)

The process involves taking seawater and inducing a chemical reaction to extract carbon dioxide from the water and combine it with hydrogen. Afterward, the researcher is left with short-chain hydrocarbons which can be further refined into jet fuel. The problem, at present, is finding a way to induce this chemical reaction and refine the hydrocarbons without using fossil fuels. The process is energy-intensive and involves many steps, meaning that it consumes more energy than it provides. Using traditional energy sources would negate the positive impact that the environmentally-friendlier jet fuel may have. However, just taking the first steps toward researching alternative fuels for the military’s aircraft is a big step toward making them a little less of an ecological liability.

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See more in Energy & Power or under Science. September, 2009.
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