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Clean Power Navy clean energy and hydrogen from seawater

Published on January 2nd, 2015 | by Tina Casey

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With This Modest Little Machine, US Navy Could Rule The Seas

January 2nd, 2015 by  


Well, the US Navy already does rule the seas, but this contraption could make the Navy even rulier than it is now. It’s a device for capturing carbon dioxide from seawater, and it also generates hydrogen as a byproduct, which means that you have your two basic ingredients for making your own fuel-on-the-go. That’s good news for the Navy, and that thing about the hydrogen could also mean there’s another pathway to sustainable hydrogen for fuel cell electric vehicles.

The real beauty of the device, dubbed the Electrolytic Cation Exchange Module, is that the whole process takes place without requiring additional chemicals or creating toxic byproducts. That’s a huge advantage compared to the conventional processes for recovering CO2 from seawater.

This thing crossed our radar back in 2012 and it won a coveted Popular Science “Best of What’s New” award last fall, so let’s check in again and see what we have to look forward to in 2015.

Navy CO2 and hydrogen from seawater

Electrolytic Cation Exchange Module (cropped) courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory.

Capturing CO2 And Hydrogen From Seawater

The Electrolytic Cation Exchange Module, or E-CEM for short, has been under development by the US Naval Research Laboratory.

That research passed a significant milestone back in 2009, when researchers modified a standard chlorine dioxide cell and an electro-deionization cell to release CO2 from seawater, and generate hydrogen as a byproduct.

 

That process generated feasibility studies with enough promise to justify building the electrochemical cells into an integrated “skid,” and to scale up the volume of seawater for further evaluation.

The process, as described by NRL, is similar to the familiar Fischer-Tropsch process used to convert hydrogen and carbon monoxide to liquid fuel. In that process, the raw materials are typically sourced from coal or methane, as well as biomass.

The attraction of seawater is its high concentration of CO2. Here’s what the Navy has to say about that:

CO2 is an abundant carbon resource in the air and in seawater, with the concentration in the ocean about 140 times greater than that in air. Two to three percent of the CO2 in seawater is dissolved CO2 gas in the form of carbonic acid, one percent is carbonate, and the remaining 96 to 97 percent is bound in bicarbonate.

When it caught our eye in 2012, E-CEM was still in the laboratory stage, so now let’s scoot forward to last fall’s Popular Science award for CO2 and hydrogen capture.

Many Fuels From The Sea

The E-CEM is still operating at the lab/research scale, but it has already demonstrated proof-of-concept for converting CO2 to hydrocarbons, which can be used to produce liquid natural gas, compressed natural gas, and the military grade liquid fuels F-76 and JP-5.

In addition, last year the research team demonstrated that synthetic fuel from the E-CEM could be used to power an internal combustion engine. Well, it was a pretty small engine (the engine was in a commercially available radio-controlled aircraft), but the key point is that the engine required no modification, and the aircraft actually made it into the air.

So Are You Ready For An S-EV?

S-EV would be short for seawater electric vehicle, only of course you’re not dumping buckets of seawater into your car, you’re driving a fuel cell EV (FCEV) that runs on hydrogen derived from seawater.

We’ve been having a rather interesting discussion about FCEVs compared to battery EVs, so for now let’s just say that FCEVs are way behind the curve when it comes to cracking the EV market.

However, as recently expressed by Hyundai, some auto makers have good reasons for promoting FCEVs, and California is fully committed to kickstarting the US FCEV market with a solid hydrogen fueling infrastructure, so it’s time to get real and assume that FCEVs will eventually find their place in the personal mobility landscape.

That means it’s time to get super-serious about finding sustainable sources for hydrogen, which is currently sourced primarily from natural gas (yes, that natural gas).

Sustainably sourced hydrogen from biogas and wastewater is already in the works, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this seawater thing to see if there’s a possibility of moving from a ship based fuel-on-the-go model to a cost-effective land based facility that could supply hydrogen for ground vehicles, sourced from seawater.

For that matter, we’re already seeing solar companies pair up with auto manufacturers — SolarCity and Honda, for example — to provide property owners with the means to generate solar-sourced electricity for their BEVs. From there it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to enabling solar-powered hydrogen production from water, so stay tuned.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Leslie Crawford

    We always seem to look at initial cost of these experimental fuels. We need to look at how these fuels can make our energy cleaner and safer. I personally think pure hydrogen is our only hope. It would be never ending supplies of energy. I think we will find the secret of separated water into Hydrogen and Oxygen and using it to fuel everything.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I suppose we could power everything with hydrogen if we didn’t care about the cost.

      And didn’t care about burning fossil fuels a lot longer than we otherwise would need to do.

  • rats123

    Nuclear powered aircraft carriers would find this useful

  • Mike Shurtleff

    Tina,
    Thanks for the update. Interesting stuff. Good comments in the discussion. Easy to see why Navy could benefit from developing this.

    wrt FCEVs:
    “some auto makers have good reasons for promoting FCEVs”
    I don’t agree with that assessment. Renewable H2 production is inefficient (=more expensive), H2 has to be compressed to be carried (less efficient & more troublesome), and there is no H2 refueling infrastructure (this will be very expensive to build). I don’t see where FCEVs will ever be able to compete with EVs + EREVs.
    Why not use this process to go straight to liquid fuels, for planes, trucks, and EREVs?

    There is another important application this makes possible. Consider off-grid and micro-grid Solar PV in Australia, Hawaii, and Chile for examples. Solar PV is already low enough in cost, but still getting cheaper. Low-cost battery storage is now coming to the market, so Solar PV power can be used at night (Aquion, Panasonic/Tesla, Ambri, EOS, and many others). What do we do if there is a week of cloudy weather? This device has the potential of solving that problem at a reasonable cost (not necessarily cheap, but if it’s just for a few days or week a year). 100% Revewable Solar PV powered off-grid homes and micro-grid towns, 24/7/365. NICE!

    Thanks again,
    mike

  • Joseph Dubeau

    The Fischer-Tropsch reaction
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44OU4JxEK4k

  • Joseph Dubeau

    Fischer tropsch synthesis – an introduction
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpZWPK4vcEU

  • José DeSouza

    It’s by far the dumbest thing I’ve heard in 2015. For starters, there’s not enough room to accommodate a high-output, more-complex-than-usual petrochemical plant inside an aircraft carrier, no matter how big that might be. It’s a strict case of either the aircraft or the petrochemical plant on the boat, not both sharing the same cramped quarters. Not to mention safety concerns even if such a thing would never come close to a war zone.

    That’s the equivalent of a technological Ponzi scheme. Far from increasing “defense” capabilities (whatever that means), it’s actually a recipe for in-built vulnerabilities in what could be deemed as nuclear-powered sitting ducks.

  • globi

    Another much less expensive option would be to have less sorties of fighter/bomber aircrafts in the first place. As it is always cheaper to save fuel than to buy or produce fuel.
    Or can someone show convincing proof that the world would be much worse off, if the Navy had flown less sorties during the last 50 years or if the US-military-interventions had be more sparse in general?

    More importantly, if the money spent on military interventions was spent on efficiency measures and renewable energies, less fossil fuels would have needed to be imported from questionable regions/countries controlled by despots. This in turn would have given those despots less room for (bad) action.

  • José DeSouza

    A floating, nuclear-powered combination of the Sabatier and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis processes, tapping into dilute resources… To ultimately make sure America will keep the petrodollar alive? The gods must really have gone mad…

  • Michael G

    For all those postulating about whether H2 has a future outside of a 0.1% niche market, there is a marvelous article on the discovery and attempted commercialization of graphene and nanotubes in the New Yorker:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/22/material-question

    Near the end, it quotes a science historian:

    “Before his death, in 1907, Lord Kelvin carefully, carefully calculated that a heavier-than-air flying machine would never be possible,” Friedel says. “So we always have to have some humility. A couple of bicycle mechanics could come along and prove us wrong.”

    Tina and others here do a marvelous job highlighting all the new and interesting things people are working on that might keep the planet habitable. All those who are so annoyed at researchers looking at stuff they “know” can’t work or at states helping some protoyping along should be aware there are litkely a pair of “bicycle mechanics” somewhere you never knew existed waiting to upend things.

    • Shane 2

      It may be that at sometime in the future hydrogen produced directly from sunlight could be produced cheaper that hydrogen from natural gas. Then you have a game changer. Currently hydrogen is produced from natural gas and it is difficult to store with reasonable density. What is the advantage of using hydrogen fuels cells in cars over aluminum-air cells? Both are currently expensive but aluminium-air cells give your vehicle better range. With aluminum powered cars you need to recycle the electrolyte and the spent aluminum (hydroxide). Both methods allow rapid refuelling of the vehicle. An analysis of the overall costs associated with the two methods would be useful. I think that aluminum might be a better option as an energy carrier for use in cars than hydrogen. Some aluminum is made from renewable energy. It is made that way in my native NZ and it is made that way in Quebec.

      • Calamity_Jean

        Iceland also makes aluminum using all renewable energy.

      • Carl Borrowman

        “What is the advantage of using hydrogen fuel cells in cars over aluminum-air cells?”

        Good question.

        The sole one I can see is hydrogen fuel can be produced from wastewater treatment, such as the station in Fountain Valley demonstrates. An already expensive, consumptive process that is a necessity may as well have a useful byproduct.

        Other than that, Big Oil would probably be more interested in (“dirty”, or perhaps even green, considering their renewable spin-offs) hydrogen, as it is a byproduct from what they are already producing, and another fuel they can sell in the future to extend their business.

  • Shane 2

    ***Sustainably sourced hydrogen from biogas and wastewater is already in the works, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this seawater ***
    Hydrogen from seawater is as expensive as hydrogen from river water. The only difference here is that the Navy was looking to use nuclear powered ships and their surplus nuclear reactor electricity to turn hydrogen from H2O electrolysis and CO2 from seawater into hydrocarbon fuel. This is not because of inherent economic viability but because you can use nuclear energy to reduce supply line problems when you are many of thousands of miles from home port. This has no relevance to the cost of producing hydrogen from renewables for use in FCEVs. None.

  • anderlan

    First, I like this. It’s turning our back on fossil energy. Liquid fuels are vital to the military (but they will eventually quit being used). However, hydrogen is all layman excitement and no real analysis. California is being idiotic.

    Put a hefty price on fossil emissions, take that money and reduce all other government revenue equally per person, end all other energy incentives, and the market will be smart enough to sort this out.

    There are multiple layers of failure to the story of hydrogen, so it makes it hard to even take it all in, so some folks give up and go along. It’s better to make liquid fuel than it is to make hydrogen and worry about moving and storing it. After you realize this, you realize that liquid fuel itself is way worse than moving energy directly from point to point via the transmission grid. Fail. Fail. Fail.

    Of course, liquid fuels have a niche. Hell, hydrogen even has a teeeeeny tiny niche, making power in spacecraft, running a military jet that has no telltale CO2 trail, other bizarre functions. Meanwhile, we have 99.9% of the rest of the non-fossil economy that needs to be built. Any economy that involves very much liquid fuel or any hydrogen to speak of will be very inefficient. It will waste money and hurt lives because of added CO2 that needn’t happen. Liquid fuels are now prevalent, but they are on a course to decline, they must decline. Price fossil emissions and let the market be smart.

  • Doug Pearson

    Hmmm. There is an increasing need for desalinated sea water as a source for drinking water. Tampa, FL is an example in the US, and I understand many ships desalinate sea water, too.

    By combining functions–extracting CO2 and Hydrogen, and extracting fresh water–perhaps there would be some cost efficiencies.

  • Kevin McKinney

    What concerns me about this idea–well, maybe “concern” is a bit strong, given that it’s unlikely to be much more than a niche thing (see comments below)–is the emissions. Essentially, it seems to me, you are ‘de-sequestering’ carbon from seawater, since most of it is “bound in bicarbonate.”

    If that perception is correct, then this is actually a (very small) retrograde step on the road to carbon neutrality.

    • Michael G

      The oceans are absobing a lot of CO2 now forming carbonic acid which is destroying sea corals and making it difficult for other sea life to survive. With proper use of the CO2, this could save the oceans from increasing acidification.

      Here’s a paper suggesting solving the problem by forming carbonate minerals:

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/036054429500071N

      • Kevin McKinney

        Of course ocean acidification is a big problem. But the carbon they remove is largely bicarbonate, which is more ‘solution’ (pun intended) than problem… It’s the 1-2% carbonic acid that we need to worry about.

        Thanks for the link, too, but that is pretty old news. Dr. Klaus Lackner, the lead author, is a pretty interesting guy. Here’s his page:

        http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/klaus-lackner/

        What it doesn’t say is that he was a prime mover in the outfit that became known as “Kilimanjaro Energy”, got a good chunk of private venture capital, and promptly became a news ‘black hole.’

        Lackner’s concept is discussed Broecker & Kunig’s “Fixing Climate” which I summarized here:

        Broecker & Kunzig’s “Fixing Climate”: A Summary Review

        The Kilimanjaro website seems to have disappeared, but they are listed as a ‘finalist’ in the Virgin Earth Challenge competition, which is ongoing:

        http://www.virginearth.com/finalists/

        I hope it’s simply because Kilimanjaro was not releasing any information anyway–but rather suspect they may have folded. That’s hinted at, a bit, here:

        http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/passive_carbon_capture_can_clean_up_our_air_but_the_technology_lacks_/

        And speaking of the VEC, here’s a related and interesting semi-commercial news item on their site:

        http://www.virginearth.com/2014/09/zero-carbon-fuels-in-sight-as-climeworks-unveils-industrial-direct-air-capture-system/

        Now, that’s something I could get behind!

        • Ronald Brakels

          Would the process actually use bicarbonate as that would be quite energy intensive. Perhaps it would be less energy intensive to just use the dissolved CO2?

      • Omega Centauri

        The atmosphere equilibartes CO2 with surface waters within a couple of years, so “liberating” surface CO2 in this manner isn’t a nig effect. If the alternative is fossil fuel sourced fuel/CO2, this has hugely lower CO2 footprint.

        Now, if we could use a similar process to make hydrogen, and actually sequester the CO2 (geological burial), we would then have a CO2 negative fuel lifecycle. I doubt that will be economic, but the pyhsics doesn’t prevent CO2 negative fuel sources from existing.

      • sjc_1

        carbonic acid H2CO3

        They create CO, H2 and O2.
        H2 and CO is synthesis gas which can make methanol, DME and longer chain hydrocarbons like kerosene and diesel.

  • Michael G

    C.f. Fuel-cell powered submarine: Diesel powered at surface and FC powered below:

    “…slow cruising, staying submerged for up to three weeks without surfacing and with no exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable” from:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_212_submarine

  • Ronald Brakels

    I think an F4 at maximum thrust would produce 58 megawatts of heat. The Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, which is a massive thing, only has 194 thermal megawatts of power. So it is possible for four combat jets to have higher thermal output than the aircraft carrier. This is not to say that making aircraft fuel onboard is necessarily a bad idea, rather I am just pointing out there are limits to what can be achieved. Could an aircraft carrier moving at slow speed produce enough fuel to maintain its CAP? How big is a CAP these days anyway? I suppose it would depend on an aircraft carrier’s head size.

    • JamesWimberley

      The military are very interested in resilience and backup. Suppose your logistics chain is crippled by enemy subs? A system that will keep you operating, even at a very reduced scale, is worth having. I once suggested to struggling Skysails that they should try to interest navies in their power kites as emergency propulsion, but nothing came of it.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I think any enemy capable of doing significant damage to a carrier’s logistics train could just sink the carrier. Aircraft carriers are glass cannons. Great for bombing the Zanzibar Sultanate but horribly vulnerable against a capable enemy or even a not so capable enemy. For example, just look at how gimped US navel operations became after the suicide attack on the USS Cole.

        Anyway, I’ll just repeat my point, making aircraft fuel onboard an aircraft carrier is not necessarily a bad idea, but the high fuel consumption of combat aircraft and relatively low power output of aircraft carriers limits what can be achieved. At cruise speed a super hornet may very roughly use 3,500 liters of kerosene per hour. That’s about 131,000 megajoules. So if the process was 20% efficient at converting thermal power to liquid fuel, which is optimistic, and assuming the Ronald Reagan is 50% efficient at converting thermal power to horsepower, it would take almost all the power output of the Ronald Reagan’s nuclear reactors to power two F/A-18s flying at cruise speed. So if half the carrier’s power output was available for producing fuel, depending on the characteristics of its protective Combat Air Patrol, it would appear that an aircraft carrier could not produce enough liquid fuel to sustain its own CAP.

        • Carl Borrowman

          Fair point, but what if there was a refueling ship in the fleet with enough storage capacity to fuel itself and the fleet on demand while the entire fleet (including the refueling ship) is producing fuel 24/7?

          From my own experience, our aircraft carrier only had to refuel about once or twice a month. Of course, op tempo determines fuel consumption, but still, 15-30 days of fuel production has to count for something, if even only supplemental. In this case, the leverage of onsite production could come in handy, especially during emergency situations: some fuel is better than no fuel.

          Which leads to the second point, when doing circles of the cost of WhateverStan, and cut off from refueling, on site production would seem to be a great boon indeed, however minimal.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Making jet fuel at sea, either on the carrier or on another vessel, could turn out to be extremely valuable to the US navy. I just wanted to point out that, perhaps counter intuitively given their massive size differential, the energy used by a carrier moving at flank speed might only be enough to create sufficient fuel to power a couple of naval jets operating at full thrust, and so there are limits on what can be achieved onboard a carrier.

  • Dragon

    The Navy obviously thinks this has potential to be cost effective for them, but if it only makes sense running off an aircraft carrier nuclear reactor and isn’t cheaper than splitting hydrogen from natural gas, we aren’t going to see it applied to FCEVs. We need more information and less wild conjecture.

    • Marion Meads

      IIRC, the cost of production of jet fuel using this technology is about $2-$4 per gallon. They said that it would cost about $1.50 per gallon after the current process is streamlined. Even at $5/gallon cost of production, this would still be excellent, as you don’t incur the cost of transporting the fuel through various war zones and the risks associated with transport of fuel for resupply.

      • Carl Borrowman

        Even in peacetime this would be more economical than the cost of logistics required for traditional transport and refueling.

    • Carl Borrowman

      Where it seems to make a lot more sense for FCEVs is when it comes to treating wastewater and deriving hydrogen as a byproduct from a process that is necessary regardless.

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/hydrogen-fuel-waste-water-treatment-plant.html

  • jburt56

    Next step is a wave turbine to power it.

  • MarTams

    This device can be adapted to use CO2 from biomass or other fossil based power plants and convert it into liquid fuel using electricty from solar.

    • Steven F

      no, it extracts CO2 from carbonates in the water. It operates by passing electricity through sea water. Hydrogen collects on one side and CO2 on the other.

      • Marion Meads

        You forgot to understand the word “adapted” from MarTams. CO2 is readily available, a simple hydrolysis of water to get the H2 and you have components to make liquid fuel. A lot of the other processes in making liquid fuel can be used from the US Navy contraption. There are efforts to make liquid fuel out of CO2 using sunlight, heat, electricity or other combination. The US Navy contraption opened another nice option. Saltwater instead of freshwater can be used.

        • Carl Borrowman

          It’s a great point, maximizing the waste from their own usage as much as possible.

          Hopefully, if this process comes into fruition, they can also take out nitrates and other contaminates in seawater which is now killing much of aquatic life.

          Another thing I would like to see more of is wastewater recycling on Navy ships, along with a more efficient trash recycling system. Unfortunately, too many of the ships are old and many deem it too costly to renovate them to match modern efficient systems… few things are more disheartening than watching waste still being dumped at midnight in the middle of the ocean when you know there is a better way.

  • MarTams

    This is a contraption that converts electrical energy into chemical energy in the form of liquid fuel. Electrical energy can come from nuclear power plant of the aircraft carrier. So the beauty of this process is that there is no need to ship jet fuel for the fighter planes which is a huge advantage. Considering that shipment of fuel from Haliburton or Dick Cheney’s cronies oil companies costs $200-$1,000 per gallon, this is excellent alternative.

    Solar as source of electricity would be nice but it would require deployment of panels several times the size of the aircraft carrier and won’t produce fuel during no or low sunshine.

    • David in Bushwick

      Hundreds of dollars a gallon?!
      So their endless greed is helping to create a renewable future.

      • MarTams@yahoo.com

        The risks of the shipment to the war zone is their main justification for the crazy price of fuel.

        • Kyle Field

          Yeah, the pricepoint I have seen in the past was $400/gallon for fuel in Afghanistan (for the US Military)

          • Calamity_Jean

            There’s also the casualties incurred during attacks on fuel convoys.

          • Carl Borrowman

            Even outside of the combat zone it is extremely expensive. There is also the refueling ships themselves (both civilian and military) with their own crew and power needs, with each person in the chain being fed, sheltered, and paid to do nothing but refuel ships and or maintain the refueling ship itself.

          • José DeSouza

            Yes, it happens sometimes. Specially when you invade other people’s countries.

      • James Van Damme

        Would you care to drive a fuel tanker to the front lines?

        • David in Bushwick

          Would you care to be a soldier on the front lines making $40k a year and needing food stamps for your family back home?

    • Michael G

      Aircraft carriers are powered by nuclear fuel but they do not move without a flotilla of support and defense ships around them to protect them. Those smaller ships are typically not nuclear and could use the H2 for fuel cells.

  • JamesWimberley

    What’s the Navy’s power supply for this? Aircraft carriers have spare energy from 24/7 nuclear reactors. So do submarines, but they don’t have a use for liquid fuels. You could cover the superstructures of other surface ships with solar panels, but surely that couldn’t generate enough electricity to be more than a useful range extender and emergency get-you-home kit. A fleet could deploy large floating wind turbines.

    • Marion Meads

      The various aircrafts in an aircraft carrier surely have tremendous unsatiable appetites for liquid fuels.

  • Defendor

    I doubt this will ever see practical application. The input energy you put into making energy out of water (including seawater) is almost certainly going to be greater than the output.

    • JamesWimberley

      Isn’t that required by thermodynamics? The question is the relative value and scarcity of the two sorts of energy. You absolutely must have kerosene to fly a plane.

      • Defendor

        Good point. I thought this story was implying, some kind of perpetual self fueling scheme.

        Nuclear equipped ships could create liquid fuels for planes/choppers.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “Nuclear equipped ships could create liquid fuels for planes/choppers.”

          That’s exactly what the Navy wants it for. The idea is that they run a nuclear aircraft carrier’s reactor a little harder to generate “spare” electricity, then use that to power this process, and fuel the airplanes with the result. It would save the Navy from having to ship jet fuel for many thousands of miles. Aircraft carriers would have less fuel in stock (because they could make it continuously), so if they were hit by an enemy the resulting fire wouldn’t be so hard to control.

          • Omega Centauri

            The few times I’ve seen cost estimates thrown out, the produced hydro-carbons are $3-4 per gallon. So for any place well connected to the global oil product market this isn’t esepcially appealing. However at the end of a long logistics train it could be a winner. And thats only cosnidering cost, military supply chains are vulnerable, and can lead to significant numbers of casualties if attacked. So if it works out, it is win-wing for the military.

          • Calamity_Jean

            The Naval Research Laboratory’s website says $3 to $6 per gallon, so you’re right about this not being an economical process anywhere except at the end of a long military supply chain. http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/fueling-the-fleet-navy-looks-to-the-seas

          • Carl Borrowman

            The thing is, well over 90 percent of the U.S. Navy is “at the end of a long” supply chain (military and or civilian, depending on the port or position at sea).

            What civilians in general don’t seem to realize is how costly and dangerous getting fuel to the ship itself can be.
            I’ve been on ships at sea when they’ve had to refuel, and let me tell you it is not an easy process. Even in ports it can be time consuming and dangerous.

            OC is right in pointing out the logistics, which comes in at a much higher price than simply the cost of producing the fuel itself. Our “shipping and handling” cost is sky high.

            Producing fuel on site (or near site) instead of having to bulk store and transport it for many hundreds to thousands of miles via millions of dollars worth in equipment, ships, time, and personnel is not only much more economical, but also potentially lifesaving.

            “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… Refueling Navy vessels at sea can prove in many ways to be a costly endeavor… With such a process, the Navy could avoid the uncertainties inherent in procuring fuel from foreign sources and/or maintaining long supply lines

            http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/fueling-the-fleet-navy-looks-to-the-seas#sthash.rSgPDkqH.dpuf

          • Calamity_Jean

            My father was a WWII Navy veteran, and was fueling officer on his ship for a while, so his stories of tense fuel transfers were a staple of my childhood. If this process gets installed on actual aircraft carriers, there will be a lot of very happy Navy personnel.

      • Conrad Clement

        Never heard about electric aircraft?

      • Burnerjack

        Not necessarily. Converting from one energy type to another does take more energy, resulting in less than unity gain. However, using one form of energy to free up stored energy is another matter entirely. Think ‘catalyst’.

    • johnBas5

      Same as with a battery or a fossil fuel power plant.

      The idea, application is energy storage!
      Instead of using batteries you use hydrocarbons to store energy.
      Same density as fossil fuels!

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