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US Navy Tries To Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the ocean-in-the-tank dept.

Power 402

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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Or... (3, Funny)

detox.method() (1413497) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129631)

...they could just hire Jesus.

Re:Or... (3, Funny)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129901)

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.

Re:Or... (3, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Or... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130117)

You know what else is a win-win? When you take a long hollow glass rod with a very small diameter, shove it several inches into your penis hole, and break it while it's inside. There's nothing quite like it, except maybe the poor performance of Slashdot's Javascript. But other than that, there's nothing quite like it.

Re:Or... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130263)

i love you 3

Re:Or... (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130219)

Actually, we CAN run planes on booze. It's just not very good for the fuel system, and it costs an arm and a leg. Otherwise, jet turbines can burn pretty much anything.

Re:Or... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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... (3, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Or... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130465)

Actually, we CAN run planes on booze. It's just not very good for the fuel system, and it costs an arm and a leg.

Not to mention the fact that it's a waste of perfectly good booze.

Re:Or... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130749)

Are you insane? Booze prices would skyrocket!

But the beauty is (5, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129647)

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. '

        But it's easy to put a nuclear reactor in a ship, and not so easy to put one in a fighter jet.

        Brett

Re:But the beauty is (3, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129761)

Plus low carbon energy isn't that much of a fools dream...
I mean there are some really great designs for wave power floating around right now (yes, pun intended). Plus wind has some potential.

But even if we fed all the countries of the world on carbon free electricity and all had electric cars, we'd still need planes and jet engines in particular.

We could potentially build an electric jet engine-replacement (giant air compressor?), but until batteries become a lot lighter that would obviously be very counter-productive.

Re:But the beauty is (3, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129927)

Weight itself isn't the issue, it's energy density and max instantaneous energy output.

Even if you could make a 1,000,000 amp-hour battery, it's useless if it's internal serial resistance is too high to provide the amperage needed. Conversely, a low ESR capacitor can deliver quite a punch, but not for long enough to drive a jet across the country.

A gazillion dollars a year are spent on developing new battery technologies. One day they might rival the density of gasoline but I'm not holding my breath any time soon.

Re:But the beauty is (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129983)

Well, the main difference between batteries and gasoline is that once you've spent all the energy in the gasoline, it's really not that easy refilling it. After all, you've consumed it. Not so much with the batteries.

No clue what kind of energy you could extract from a fully loaded battery pack if you were allowed to consume the battery itself, but it'd be higher than otherwise.

Re:But the beauty is (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:But the beauty is (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130431)

I like the humor in your post but I think the parent comment wasn't really concerning not being able to refill the gas tank, it was about the density of the batteries compared to the bulk of the containment. If batteries could be consumed completely much like Gasoline could be, then the energy density could increase greatly. Again, your concept of a hole with a door covering it comes in real hand for refueling the batteries too.

Now to make sure you understand this concept, I'm going to ask you to imagine something. what if you could make a battery by combining two liquids that react with each other producing electricity and some waste product like water. Now imagine a tank, much like a gas tank, in which these two liquids could be pumped into on demand with perhaps a circulation system that filters the byproduct out and dumps it either onto the ground or into another tank. You could possible derive the same amounts of energy density without the need for an internal combustion engine. Now imagine that the process is self regulated as a build up of stored energy halts the reaction until it's somehow released. You would have the power of a chemical reaction like with internal combustion engines but without the combustion.

Re:But the beauty is (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129977)

The obvious application here is for a (nuclear-powered) aircraft carrier to make fuel for the aircraft that it carries. So wave power and the like might be interesting in a civilian offshoot of this tech, but the Navy has nuclear power to start with.

In civilian use, many of the most efficient engines in commercial use are diesel-electric. Gas-electric hybrids aren't quite as efficient yet, but probably will be soon. Turning non-fossil-fuel-based electric power (whether nuclear, wave power, unicorn giggles, or whatever the hippies will finally accept) plus CO2 into gas or diesel fuel, then burning that fuel in a car in a normal way to drive around is carbon neutral, and works with existing cars and existing refueling stations.

This would seriously kick ass as a way to break dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels but still use the same cars we drive today. 100% win IMO. Of course, there are people whe really just hate gas engines, and only pretend to care about CO2 and renewable resources and so on, but you can never make everyone happy.

Re:But the beauty is (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130005)

This isn't about making "gas" though. It's about making a kerosene-like jet fuel (also known as diesel). So not quite the same cars that most people drive.

Re:But the beauty is (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130363)

Jet fuel is not diesel. Fail.

Re:But the beauty is (2, Insightful)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130721)

Jet fuel is nearly the same as heating fuel. (depend on the jet...) And I like this smell of flight deck in winter when I turn the heater on...
Heating fuel is the same as diesel fuel. (You can run your heater or your old benz)
So yeah... jet fuel is not diesel... but it's damn close enough to be used as an emergency fuel in military helo even if the MTBF free fall make it a costly measure (somebody will have to quote tom clancy for me on this one)

Re:But the beauty is (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130523)

I knew it wouldn't be too long before the carbon dioxide from sequestration was found to be more useful making new fuel to just poke back into the ground. Clean coal my arse ... All the CO2 captured will eventually be burnt as fuel!

Re:But the beauty is (2)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130351)

Can't that "non-fossil-fuel-based electric power" alone propel the car? Why do we need to make more fuel, resulting in more emissions, and poor energy conversion efficiency?

Re:But the beauty is (4, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130407)

Can't that "non-fossil-fuel-based electric power" alone propel the car? Why do we need to make more fuel, resulting in more emissions, and poor energy conversion efficiency?

What part of "works with existing cars and existing refueling stations" is confusing you hippes?

There's only recently been an announcement [gas2.org] of a standard plug for electric cars. Note that an "announcement" is not manufacturing, or even a commitment to manufacturing. We've still got the inevitable patent wrangles, the embrace-extend debacles, breakaway standards, and the litigation and class action suits to go before we'll have a standard plug, and then we have to build the charging infrastructure, on top of a creaking already over-strained electrical grid.

Sorry, I put far too much thought into that. Try to read it really slowly.

Re:But the beauty is (-1, Flamebait)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129857)

But it's easy to put a nuclear reactor in a ship, and not so easy to put one in a fighter jet.

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

Re:But the beauty is (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:But the beauty is (5, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129949)

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

Re:But the beauty is (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130295)

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

That's the beauty od Slashdot.

You learn with each post, aquiring a detailed view of the current state of world threatening matters. Like Godzilla or certified evil lying man eating robots.

Re:But the beauty is (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:But the beauty is (2, Interesting)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130013)

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

Much less than what happened on 11/9, without the jet-fuel there would be no powerful steel-melting furnace. We might still need to demolish the building to clear the nuclear waste, but it could be done controlled after the everyone was evacuated. New Yorkers in general might become a little weirder and more radioactive, but I don't think anyone would notice.

Re:But the beauty is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130275)

You're right. If a nuclear reactor had crashed into the WTC, the people on the upper floors who died from the fires would have lived. Plus the steel supporting the tower wouldn't have been weakened by the heat, and neither tower would have collapsed. It's just a pity our planes aren't nuclear powered.

Re:But the beauty is (0, Redundant)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130153)

fighter jets don't have easy access to seawater anyway...

Re:But the beauty is (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130425)

fighter jets don't have easy access to seawater anyway..

Carrier based jets have very easy access to seawater. Once.

Re:But the beauty is (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130479)

Time for flying boats to make a comeback?

Re:But the beauty is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130491)

But it's easy to put a nuclear reactor in a ship, and not so easy to put one in a fighter jet.

Yeah man, jet fighters don't perform too well in the water either!

Re:But the beauty is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130617)

When I see any article like this I just have one question-
How much energy did you use, how much energy did you store.
The main thing is not to freak out if you invest 10 units of energy and only get 1 back. Why you say? Well you can fly a jet plane off this stuff. You could have stored the energy in batteries and got a greater return but you will not be flying any jet planes off today's batteries.
You would not accept this kind of return across the board but we need something to keep the planes up in the air.

Makes sense (5, Insightful)

seifried (12921) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129649)

Nuclear powered aircraft carrier, so you've got a pretty good supply of energy there, being able to convert electricity into jet fuel would save them money and reduce the amount of fuel they have to carry (reducing the amount of flammable liquids held in a ship that might get hit by a missile), and could end the need to resupply fuel, all in all very sexy if you're going in to combat.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29129701)

Sounds awfully inefficient. Nuclear power = thermal energy --> electrical power --> potential energy (jet fuel). With each conversion loosing tons of energy.

I guess logistically efficient though... not having to carry all that jet fuel with you, or being able to stay out at sea longer without a giant tanker docking next to the carrier, making it a prime target.

Re:Makes sense (3, Funny)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Makes sense (2, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Makes sense (2, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130189)

I believe step 3 in your plan is

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

Nuclear aircraft [wikipedia.org] are quite feasible, provided you really, really don't care about flyover country.

(Oh, by the way: you can skip the steam in step 1, and just heat the air directly.)

Re:Makes sense (3, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Makes sense (1)

BenihanaX (1405543) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130769)

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

Because Nuclear carriers leave trails of large amounts of radioactive material in the ocean behind them, right? Thanks for the hippy FUD.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130649)

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.

That's not the problem (synthesize methanol from CO2 and water, then synthesize longer hydrocarbons from there, e.g. by partially burning the methanol and turning it into synthesis gas). The problems are 1) extracting pure CO2 from air/water (obviously, you don't want any oxygen in your CO2, and the concentration of CO2 in air is fairly low) and 2) making the process efficient enough to be actually useful.

Re:Makes sense (3, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129941)

Well if countries that do not like the US decide to embargo oil to the US
and or supply lines are cut, then you have the choice of syngas or no gas.

That is likely the reason they are considering this because if things
continue to degrade with Israel and Iran, and the war in Afghanistan
and Pakistan is going poorly.

If things go VERY wrong, then we could find ourselves with an oil embargo
like we ran into in 1973.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis [wikipedia.org]

The odds this will happen is high if several of the foreign powers
consolidate power due to some event.

Re:Makes sense (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130227)

The military isn't going to run out of oil anytime soon due to embargo (they have ~710M barrels in the SPR), but in a hotzone they could run out without a resupply group being able to get to them in time.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130331)

Don't worry - according to Sarah Palin, all the oil we need is in her backyard. Problem solved!

Re:Makes sense (1)

beckett (27524) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130517)

Well if countries that do not like the US decide to embargo oil to the US and or supply lines are cut, then you have the choice of syngas or no gas.

There's always America's Hat, Canada.

Re:Makes sense (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130571)

If it's possible to do this, then why not break the dependency from oil anyway? why do we have to wait for an oil embargo?

Re:Makes sense (3, Interesting)

Kijori (897770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130595)

You do have to remember, though, that Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves, and by far the world's largest production capacity, and the US provides the troops and equipment to defend them. Unless the Saudis want to risk going up against other Middle Eastern countries without that help, they aren't going to stop selling to the USA. Also, Russia, which is thought to have the second largest reserves (the actual size is a state secret, so it's all guesses) has a history of ignoring embargos and quotas set by the OPEC countries, so some supply would still likely be available.

Re:Makes sense (2, Insightful)

Loligo (12021) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130785)

That is likely the reason they are considering this because if things
continue to degrade with Israel and Iran

Color me naive, but I imagine that things will go bad with EITHER Israel or Iran... one leads to the other. We'd have to REALLY fuck things up for things to go bad with both.

Then again, I still don't fully understand what Obama's got planned...

Re:Makes sense (-1, Troll)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129915)

[...]reducing the amount of flammable liquids held in a ship that might get hit by a missile[...]

Only now you have a nuclear reactor on a ship that might get hit by a missile.
While I can understand the basic reasoning behind this procedure you will always need to have a large concentration of energy around if you want, well, a large amount of energy at your disposal. And large amounts of energy are inherently dangerous; the only way to make them safer is to require less in the first place. Which means in this case storing the energy in conventional fuel, not something generated by a lossy process. This also allows for a more distributed risks instead of a single point of failure - take out the fuel generating ship and pretty soon the rest of the fleet and the planes won't be able to function.

Re:Makes sense (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129947)

You *are* aware that most naval vessels are nuclear powered right?

Re:Makes sense (2, Informative)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130663)

Actually, most surface vessels are not (in the US Navy, anyway), and I don't know of any submersible ships that carry jets. They phased out all of the nuclear powered cruisers and destroyers in the late 90's, leaving the aircraft carriers as the only nuclear powered surface ships. Here's a list [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Makes sense (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129967)

Only now you have a nuclear reactor on a ship that might get hit by a missile.

This is already the case. And most of those reactors have enough fuel to run for about 30 years before refuelling is needed. Even if you tripled the load on them, that's still a full decade of usage. Sextuple and it's five years.

Re:Makes sense (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129979)

Even without cheap hydrocarbons. this has got to be a logistics wet dream. Carrier groups are hopelessly dependent on regular resupply.

Re:Makes sense (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130009)

Nuclear powered aircraft carrier, so you've got a pretty good supply of energy there

Plenty of energy - not so much to spare once you account for propulsion, hotel loads, steam for the catapults, etc...
 
 

being able to convert electricity into jet fuel would save them money and reduce the amount of fuel they have to carry

Carriers are big, but they are stuffed full of what they need to fight - and fuel tanks are tucked into odd corners well below the water line. Not much spare room for the major industrial plant required to produce sufficient fuel in a reasonable amount of time.

Re:Makes sense (4, Informative)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130575)

Plenty of energy - not so much to spare once you account for propulsion, hotel loads, steam for the catapults, etc...

Actually, most of the time the plant isn't loaded heavily at all--most of its capacity is there solely for moving at high speed. Since you don't do that very often (you get to wherever you're going and then putt around in little rectangles), there's plenty of power available for doing something like this.

Carriers are big, but they are stuffed full of what they need to fight - and fuel tanks are tucked into odd corners well below the water line. Not much spare room for the major industrial plant required to produce sufficient fuel in a reasonable amount of time.

For what it's worth, the one I was on had several not-too-small empty spaces, certainly enough to install small test plants. I'm sure if this turns out to be viable, newer ships could be designed with plenty of room for fuel generators.

Re:Makes sense (1)

nuklearfusion (748554) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130497)

I don't know that the aircraft carrier is in itself the best place. As another commenter has already pointed out, there are space issues here. I can see, however, sending some support ships in the carrier group, minimizing resupply issues.

Cost effective? (1, Insightful)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129691)

For the life of me I can't see how this will be cost effective or environmentally friendly.
I know sometime in the future there will be scarcity of oil, or peak oil (if we aren't there yet) but no-one seriously thinks that there will be so little fuel that a navy ship won't be supplied for many decades.
Oil will become relatively more scarce through time, but at some point I think it will cease being used in cars and turbines, and used only for niche machinery and for making plastics. By the time there is no oil left for navy ships, I am betting another fuel source will have come along.
Also, from TFA:
"CO2's abundance, combined with concerns about global warming, make it an attractive potential feedstock, Dorner says. Although the gas forms only a small proportion of air - around 0.04 per cent - ocean water contains about 140 times that concentration, he says."
Can someone smarter than me explain how it addresses concerns about global warming to get the highly CO2-concentrated sea water, convert it into fuel, that presumably is then sent via an exhaust stack into the air? Isn't it just like mining coal and sending it into the air, except this plan uses carbon in the oceans?

Closed Loop (2, Informative)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129705)

It removes CO2 from the water, where it will eventually return through the same process that put it there in the first place.

Re:Closed Loop (2, Insightful)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130131)

Not only that, you could use nuclear power to perform the operation, making it a carbon-neutral way of producing and using oil. Heck, if this ever ended up being an economical way to produce chemicals for plastics, it would actually sequester carbon.

Re:Cost effective? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129713)

The main difference (if I understand correctly) is that oceans absorb CO2, while coal does not just spontaneously form. So they'd be taking carbon from the ocean, creating fuel out of it with carbon-neutral energy, burning it and releasing the carbon into the air, and then the oceans would reabsorb that carbon bringing you back to square one.

If (IF!) they can pull it off, it would be pretty darn slick.

Re:Cost effective? (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129795)

oceans absorb CO2

CO2 + H20 H2CO3

H2CO3 ==> HC03- + H+ with a pKa of 3.6

This means that we will eventually turn the oceans into Coca Cola. Not too good for the flora and fauna, I can imagine. There's a practical limit to the CO2 that the oceans can absorb.

Of course if we could create some sort of genetically engineered algae that happened to produce carbonic anhydrase, you'd be able to degas huge amounts of ocean water just by pouring it into your algae tank...

Re:Cost effective? (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129855)

oceans absorb CO2

I believe this is a method of suspension rather than a chemical reaction. To be clear, it's the CO2 in the water the same way fish pull O2 molecules suspended in water to breath.

Re:Cost effective? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130509)

Suspension? Bollocks. Oxygen dissolves in water but doesn't react with it. CO2 both dissolves and reacts with it.

Re:Cost effective? (3, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129875)

There's a practical limit to the CO2 that the oceans can absorb.

I think the point being made above is that if we're sucking the CO2 out of the ocean in the first place, it'll make a buffer to absorb what we've extracted. Or to use an analogy, we're emptying the carbon sink on the one hand and topping it up with the other, hopefully leaving things even.

Re:Cost effective? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130501)

This means that we will eventually turn the oceans into Coca Cola.

The CO2 only stays in the cola because it's pressurised and contained. Leave a glass out overnight and let it reach equilibrium; it'll be flat.

Re:Cost effective? (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Cost effective? (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129999)

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

Indeed. You don't need to know about it because it doesn't exist. The energy source is nuclear, not carbon based. If you didn't know that the US has nuclear powered ships, then you are clearly not a geek. Please hand in you card on the way out.

Re:Cost effective? (5, Insightful)

pluther (647209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130091)

By the time there is no oil left for navy ships, I am betting another fuel source will have come along

You mean, like maybe the Navy might find a way of turning seawater into jet fuel?

Trying to avoid Methane? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129695)

Methane is a good fuel in its own right. Using solar power this could be a good general source of transportable energy.

not for jet aircraft Michael (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29129739)

jet aircraft (each costing millions), runs on jet fuel, not methane

Re:not for jet aircraft Michael (2, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129787)

jet aircraft (each costing millions), runs on jet fuel, not methane

But rockets (and rocket planes) do Carmack and Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com] have been doing just that for NASA.

Tm

Re:Trying to avoid Methane? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129757)

Indeed it is, but not as jet fuel; as a couple of other posters have pointed out, almost certainly what the Navy has in mind for this is a plant that could be put on board an aircraft carrier, and used to make fuel while at sea. Methane is waste in this scenario.

Re:Trying to avoid Methane? (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129819)

Exactly, it removes one of the biggest and most vulnerable pieces of the supply chain to a carrier group, fuelers for the aircraft. If this becomes a reality soon I think good old CVN-65 (Enterprise) may get a reprieve from retirement. There's nothing quite like the spare capacity in those 8 reactors to power something like this =)

Naval waste (2, Insightful)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129789)

Thermodynamically a huge waste.

Re:Naval waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29129971)

You're thermodynamically a huge waste.

Not only a funny zinger, but technically true. I also considered "that's what she said."

Re:Naval waste (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29129981)

Everything that every living thing does is thermodynamically a huge waste.

60% of a nuclear reactor is "waste" heat (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130083)

So it may actually be more efficient thermodynamically.

Re:Naval waste (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130437)

Thermodynamically a huge waste.

So is having pointless arguments with random morons on intartubes sites. You'll be one of those "Everyone else should turn off their computers!" hippies then?

You're missing the point. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29129897)

This has got nothing to do with creating free energy, and it's got nothing to do with environmentalism. It's all about military strategy.

Your nuclear-powered carrier fleet is on patrol in a war zone. Resupply convoys are a risky business. How do you keep your planes in the air without a constant supply of jet fuel?

You make your own on board. Who cares if it's "thermodynamically a huge waste"? You've got a freaking NUCLEAR REACTOR. It's got plenty of energy to spare, all you gotta do is repackage that energy into a form that can be poured into an aircraft fuel tank.

Re:You're missing the point. (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130049)

Yes. In that context, the manufacture of a needed and unavailable energy source, without consideration of energy expended, does make complete sense.
Much like corn ethanol.

Exactly NOT like.

Re:You're missing the point. (4, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130069)

And by my Google search estimates a carrier only has enough fuel for about 1,000 flights before exhausting its supply and needing a tanker.

I imagine during combat operations that doesn't last terribly long. And having to pull along side another vessel and safely pumping that fuel has got to provide some pretty serious tactical limitations.

Re:You're missing the point. MOD UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130359)

The other comments are clueless, as so often happens here.

Instead of seawater, Use Seamen (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130003)

If you think i'm going to sign that, you're crazy.

I thought methane was a good substance...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130111)

they just need to either:
1 - capture the Methane, and bottle it. This is called "natural gas", and is a great fuel, assuming you don't mind it being a Gas, not a liquid. I'm sure the Navy can figure out how to power fighter planes with this stuff directly, ... if they really have to.
OR
2 - use Steam Reforming ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_reforming ) to convert the methane to SynGas, then to Synfuel. Easy. Just ask Mobil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synfuel

Lil Lisa Slurry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130121)

Jet fuel from seawater? Sounds like they've been listening to Burns again:

"I call our product Li'l Lisa's patented animal slurry. It's a high-protein feed for farm animals, insulation for low-income housing, a powerful explosive and a top-notch engine coolant. And best of all, it's made from one hundred percent recycled animals!"

Energy intensive industry and wind power (3, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130187)

Wind power has lots of advantages, but one major drawback - it is intermittent. If you have an industry which is very energy intensive but has low capital cost, this presents an opportunity: build your plant, and run it only when the wind is blowing and power is very cheap. This works especially well if your product is easily storable.
This process is clearly energy intensive and produces an easily storable product - whether it has the required low capital cost is much less clear. (Although the interest of the navy suggests they're wanting to use aircraft carrier nuclear power, but once developed it could find wind-powered civilian use.)
Water desalination and aluminium smelting might also qualify (I don't know the capital costs of these). Recharging electric cars certainly does (given that you're buying the car anyhow), except that you have a very limited storage capacity.
Despite not being low capital, data centres are even starting to go this way, being built with the intention of only running them when electricity is cheap (or less is required for air conditioning.) In this case the product is extremely transportable rather than easily storable.

Re:Energy intensive industry and wind power (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130281)

This process is clearly energy intensive and produces an easily storable product - whether it has the required low capital cost is much less clear. (Although the interest of the navy suggests they're wanting to use aircraft carrier nuclear power, but once developed it could find wind-powered civilian use.)

The navy has to worry about delivery costs and operational advantages. Don't make the mistake of equating military feasibility with civilian cost-efficiency. After all, for civilian use a nuclear bomb would be a very costly and inefficient way of clearing a large chunk of land, whereas for the military it's quite effective.

Re:Energy intensive industry and wind power (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130511)

The other downside being all the fighter jets that keep crashing into the wind turbines they built on the flight deck.

Re:Energy intensive industry and wind power (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130535)

Wind power has lots of advantages, but one major drawback - it is intermittent.

We're talking about aircraft carriers here. I think the major disadvantage will be that masts and rigging will obstruct the flight deck to some extent.

Pffft ... (1)

nosfucious (157958) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130265)

Jet Fuel?

Pfffft.

I can turn large amounts of beer in to even larger amounts of urine, so what?

Dilbert just saw this last week... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29130451)

http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-IL&vid=21ab2832-39cf-4a14-a63f-f5b6985cb1f2

(Sorry it's from MSN. And for the ad.)

Produce the fuel on board? (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130457)

Perhaps they plan to build carriers with larger reactors that have greater output than the needs of the ship itself, so that the excess output can be used to power a small on-board jet fuel production plant? In that scenario, who cares if the energy required outweighs the work done by the resulting fuel?

Hydrogen (1)

xuaf (1621523) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130567)

Um, why don't they just use the hydrogen as fuel? (of course, they might need to make modifications to current aircraft or even make new aircraft - but this is the military, they have money to burn) Then they could use solar & wind power to make it and we could use their technology for civilian purposes and everyone would love one another and we'd live in a utopian dreamworld. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article5907888.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Re:Hydrogen (2, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130671)

Hydrogen is problematic as a fuel. For one thing, it has a terribly low density, which is why the space shuttle has that enormous external fuel tank. For another, H2 is a really, really tiny molecule that will go through just about anything over time. That makes it a lot more dangerous and expensive to deal with.

It's just not practical for combat aircraft.

nice tech but... (0, Offtopic)

kubaZA (676589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130569)

... some how i think the application of this technology is a little misguided.

in this day and age, why are we still making war machines? most countries have all signed peace treaties and the only ones that are still actively pointing their heads into other peoples business is america, the uk and some of their allies.

as cool as it would be to have jets that run on sea water, i think they should rather be looking at other, more peaceful, applications.

Re:nice tech but... (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130713)

> in this day and age, why are we still making war machines? most countries have all signed peace > treaties and the only ones that are still actively pointing their heads into other peoples
> business is america, the uk and some of their allies.

Russia has done so recently, some consider the Chinese occupation of Tibet "pointing their heads into other peoples business", there are pirates in Somalia, various genocides in Africa, radical Islam still converting by the sword, not to mention all of the conflicts between whatever bosses are in power beating up whatever people over whom they have power and those people trying to be the bosses. Humans are murderous; deal with it.

> as cool as it would be to have jets that run on sea water, i think they should rather be
> looking at other, more peaceful, applications.

The US Navy has a need, so they're doing the research. Unless they classify the whatever useful catalyst(s) they find (not entirely unlikely), you could be making jet fuel at Narita, or any of several other airports right on the ocean (using wave/tidal power), saving the energy costs of fuel transport. Los Angeles has several major airports in the region, and an ocean not far from at least two of them

There's polish technology (1)

Sneer (942925) | more than 5 years ago | (#29130667)

There is laboratory proven - and efficient - technology of converting CO2 (from factories' chimneys) into metane. Technology was developed by prof. Dobieslaw Nazimek [greencarcongress.com] . They are trying to implement it in large scale, at the cost about USD 200M per one factory like carbon energy plant. There are 2 main problems: cleaning fumes and finding brave investor.
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