THE U.S. NAVY HAS LAB PROVEN A PROCESS TO CONVERT SEAWATER TO FUEL
The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel from seawater seems to the ordinary mind like the old alchemist quest to turn lead into gold. But to the mind of the chemical engineer seawater is not one of the basic elements that can't be altered. Among the potentially useful for fuel components of seawater, count a large proportion of hydrogen, and oxygen and useful amounts of carbon dioxide. The U.S. Navy now says they know how to extract useful hydrocarbon fuel from ordinary seawater.According to Dr. Heather Wilauer a research chemist with about ten years on this U.S. Navy project the Naval Research Laboratory has been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously. Calling this development a "big break through" she noted that the resulting fuel "doesn't look or smell very different. Vice Admiral Philip Cullom stated that the development was "a huge milestone for us". There are two rather difficult steps left before any ships will be running on this fuel. First the Navy has to figure out how to produce it in industrial quantities. That will take a while but can probably be accomplished with commercially available equipment reconfigured to perform the lab process on a big scale.
The production of hydrocarbon fuel from seawater in industrial quantities however only assures the U.S. Navy of a fuel source. Frankly this fuel source looks like it will cost $4 to $6 per gallon at first. So don't look for it to immediately displace petroleum based products in the Navy's fleet. More over, production in industrial quantities doesn't eliminate the logistic problems of conventional fuels. It still has to be pumped aboard from a shore side fueling depot, or at sea from a fleet tanker. The real game changer comes when they figure out how to reduce the cost per gallon and down size the refining machinery to fit in a ships' engine room. When it will happen we don't know but once ships can produce their own hydrocarbon fuel the game really changes. The entire fleet takes on the the on scene endurance and self supporting transit and linger time of the nuclear ships at less cost and fewer environmental headaches. The Naval Research Laboratory has its hands on the game changer. The game actually changes when the ships have it in use. Expect at least a decade, longer if the democrats remain in office.