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Power The Military Science

US Navy Tries To Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel 402

Posted by samzenpus
from the ocean-in-the-tank dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "New Scientist reports that, faced with global warming and potential oil shortages, the US Navy is experimenting with making jet fuel from seawater by processing seawater into unsaturated short-chain hydrocarbons that with further refining could be made into kerosene-based jet fuel. The process involves extracting carbon dioxide dissolved in the water and combining it with hydrogen — obtained by splitting water molecules using electricity — to make a hydrocarbon fuel, a variant of a chemical reaction called the Fischer-Tropsch process, which is used commercially to produce a gasoline-like hydrocarbon fuel from syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen often derived from coal. The Navy team have been experimenting to find out how to steer the CO2-producing process away from producing unwanted methane by finding a different catalyst than the usual one based on cobalt. 'The idea of using CO2 as a carbon source is appealing,' says Philip Jessop, a chemist at Queen's University adding that to make a jet fuel that is properly 'green,' the energy-intensive electrolysis that produces the hydrogen will need to use a carbon-neutral energy source; and the complex multi-step process will always consume significantly more energy than the fuel it produces could yield. 'It's a lot more complicated than it at first looks.'"
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US Navy Tries To Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel

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  • Or... (Score:3, Funny)

    by detox.method() (1413497) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:53AM (#29129631)
    ...they could just hire Jesus.
  • by evanbd (210358) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:15AM (#29129731)
    When you come up with a way to make the jet fuel directly out of CO2, water, and the energy in the uranium, let us know. I'm sure someone can find a use for that somehow.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:18AM (#29129747)

    For the life of me I can't see how this will be cost effective or environmentally friendly.

          Oh it's carbon neutral, didn't you read? I mean, forget about all the CO2 produced when vast amounts of energy are expended to obtain, store, ship, and heat all that non-naturally occurring hydrogen - you don't need to know about THAT CO2 (kinda like the extra $14 trillion dollars the US government is currently printing/spending - what you thought the "bailouts" totaled 2 trillion?). But the carbon monoxide goes in, and comes out, in a 1:1 environmentally friendly ratio.

          This is after all a US government program. You can TRUST the US government!

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:46AM (#29129887)

    When you come up with a way to make the jet fuel directly out of CO2, water, and the energy in the uranium, let us know. I'm sure someone can find a use for that somehow.

    What, you never heard of a steam powered jet? Pffft. What world are you living in? Let me spell it out for you!

    1) Uranium heats water.
    2) Water turns to steam and spins engines and makes jet fly
    3) ...
    4) Profit!

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Funny)

    by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:50AM (#29129901) Homepage

    Jesus must be in a bad mood. According to insurance companies, tornadoes are acts of god.

    Today a tornado struck a church in Minneapolis.

    The irony is delicious.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:56AM (#29129931)

    Just imagine what would've happened if a nuclear reactor crashed into WTC. The bottom of the sea doesn't have this problem.

    You clearly haven't seen many disaster movies.

    There are many ways a nuclear ship and a NY sky scraper can crash against each other, including:

    - Giant wave.
    - Godzilla.
    - Earthquake
    - Giant Octopus.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:59AM (#29129949)

    I never really considered Godzilla as an argument for nuclear reactors in airplanes.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Funny)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:26AM (#29130071)
    Are you after the jet fuel or the booze? If you ask me, it's a win-win if we could run planes on booze.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:05AM (#29130231)

    Yeah, but I've come up with this brilliant idea for that. See, up until now, gasoline powered devices come with all their gasoline installed at the factory, like you said, and once the gasoline is gone, you have to throw out your car/lawnmower/Molotov cocktail and get a new one. But, my brilliant idea involves a hole in the gas tank through which you can pour more gasoline. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Who would want a hole in the side of their car? Plus, all your gas would evaporate, it would be dangerous, etc. But the hole is only part of my ingenious plan. I've come up with a threaded stopper for the hole that you can screw into it to seal it. Plus, a little door to go on the side of the car with the gas-hole behind it, to make it unobtrusive. There are some big obstacles to my plan though. This revolutionary idea is going to require a huge investment. We're going to need to put gasoline pumps everywhere, at what I call a "filling station". It's going to take some time to get everything set. Still, I think it will be worth it.
    On a side note, the obvious advantage that volatiles like gasoline have over batteries in terms of energy density is free oxygen. The energy density of gasoline isn't worth squat in space, for example. It needs plenty of oxygen to work, but you don't have to carry the oxygen with you. If you had to lug around an oxygen canister with the gasoline to make it work, batteries might become much more attractive. This is why fuel air explosives give so much bang for the buck. It's harder to make the process work than conventional explosives, but you don't have to pack the fuel air bomb with its own oxidant.

  • Re:Or... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:29AM (#29130339)

    Otherwise, jet turbines can burn pretty much anything.

    Orphan blood powered fighter jets. Finally something to reflect the evilness of the military.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Funny)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:04AM (#29130533)

    Orphan blood powered fighter jets. Finally something to reflect the evilness of the military.

    Hell no! If we pumped all the orphan blood into the jets, what would we drink at our Satanic gatherings and Zionism worshiping ceremonies? We might have to settle for ... *shudder* ... blended abortions and placentas. No true patriot would suggest such a low quality alternative. Fuck you, AC!

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:10AM (#29130561)

    3) Large amounts of radioactive material fly out the back of the jet, contaminating everything in sight.

    It's not a bug, it's a feature!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pluto [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Or... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:51AM (#29130749)

    Are you insane? Booze prices would skyrocket!

  • by jamesh (87723) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:02AM (#29130805)

    I never really considered Godzilla as an argument for nuclear reactors in airplanes.

    And this lack of foresight is why you have no place in todays military.

  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Funny)

    by sqldr (838964) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:55AM (#29131039)
    they must have let gays in there
  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:56AM (#29131043)

    if we could run planes on booze.

    quiet you! dont be giving ideas to corn farmers

  • by Grashnak (1003791) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:33AM (#29131533)
    Really? Turning sea water into jet fuel is more complicated than it looks? Cause from here it looks pretty freaking complicated.
  • Re:Or... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kozz (7764) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:35AM (#29132811)

    Jesus must be in a bad mood. According to insurance companies, tornadoes are acts of god.

    Clearly I need to drink the coffee in front of me. I read that as "tomatoes are acts of god". I mean, they're pretty good, but... Oh.

  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:29AM (#29133457)

    Yes, but they are going to need enormous amounts of water to plit off the hydrogen. Where are they going to get all this out in the middle of the ocean? They will need constant resupply ships just to supply all the needed water. You might just as well have the supply ships carry finished fuel instead of water.

If you aren't rich you should always look useful. -- Louis-Ferdinand Celine

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