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US Navy Tries to Turn Seawater into Jet Fuel

pickens (49171) writes | more than 5 years ago

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Hugh Pickens writes "The New Scientists 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 cobalt-based catalyst. "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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