Making Jet Fuel From Seawater

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has developed a way to create military grade Jet Fuel on operating, underway ships using nothing more than seawater.  This process uses Hydrogen molecules taken from water and combines them with the carbon from carbon dioxide to form long chain hydrocarbons.  These hydrocarbons can then be refined to make JP-5 jet fuel, the standard jet fuel used by all naval aircraft at a cost of about $3 – $6 per gallon.  Current cost of JP-5 fuel is about $4 per gallon but that doesn’t include the amount of money it takes to ship that fuel to where it is needed, sometimes tens of thousands of miles away.  This technology could eventually produce commercial jet fuel as well, which contains additional anti-static ignition and anti-freeze components.  This fuel could also be used in the Navy’s Gas Turbine powered ships, which include destroyers, cruisers, and frigates. 
This is hydrocarbon fuel that could be produced at less than what many countries pay for fuel – from seawater!  Jet fuel is very similar to kerosene, which is also very similar to diesel fuel.  So similar that you can run a diesel engine on this stuff.  Both Thielert and Austro_engine already offer diesel engines that run on jet fuel.  Kerosene is also a valuable hydrocarbon that is used as heating fuel for many people in cold climates.  This is one way to completely reverse dependence on foreign oil, as long as you have access to the ocean.  Since seawater to fuel conversion plants could be made at many port cities, this would also end the need to ship large amounts of fuel around the world thus reducing cost of shipping involved in fuel distribution and the cost of the fuel used in the ships needed to distribute the fuel to the location where it is needed most. While at this time this process only yields long chain hydrocarbons, it is possible that in the future gasoline could be made using a similar set of chemical reactions.

Carbon neutral fuel could soon be possible for everyone without having to rely on expensive electric or hybrid technologies. Carbon dioxide is common in both air and is even found in higher concentrations dissolved in the ocean.  This carbon would be taken out of the eco-system to produce the fuel and when burned as fuel, would be returned for a total of zero carbon added to the global environment.  While it does take power to covert seawater into refined fuel, this could come from solar, wind, or tidal generators that could even add to the local power grid when not active. 

It seems like a win-win scenario for everyone.  Well, everyone except the countries that have sunk billions into searching for, extracting, and selling fossil fuels at high prices.  The oil corporations that have invested billions setting up their infrastructure for oil extraction and distribution probably wouldn’t like this idea too much, either.  For everyone else that has been told that we absolutely definitely will run out of fossil fuels at some point within our lifetimes, this is fantastic.  Finally, this technology could keep fuel prices from ever going above price levels that are currently seen today.  As a reference point the most current prices I could find were Sept 17th, 2012 prices including tax: U.S. Diesel price = $4.14 per gallon, U.K. Diesel price = $8.87 per gallon.


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