HOUSTON — Navy researchers say they have turned seawater into fuel that could power military vehicles for less than $6 per gallon.
The researchers announced this month that the seawater-based fuel successfully powered a remote-controlled model airplane with a standard two-stroke internal combustion engine. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas extracted from Gulf of Mexico water were converted into liquid hydrocarbon fuel using gas-to-liquid technology. The renewable fuel mirrors its petroleum-based counterpart and could be used in standard military engines.
“The potential payoff is the ability to produce JP-5 fuel stock at sea, reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden and increasing the Navy’s energy security and independence,” said Naval Research Laboratory chemist Heather Willauer in a written statement. “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.”
The fuel would cost $3 to $6 per gallon and would be commercially viable within 10 years, with sufficient research funding, according to the Naval Research Laboratory.
The scientists now are working to scale up the technology to increase fuel output. The ability to power military ships and aircraft with seawater-based fuel would be revolutionary. In fiscal year 2011, the primary fuel supplier to the Navy delivered nearly 600 million gallons to power the vessels.
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