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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

U.S. Navy Makes Gasoline From Seawater

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (N.R.L.) announced in April 2014 that they have manufactured long-chain hydrocarbons – that is essentially gasoline – entirely from seawater, and used the fuel to power a flying model aircraft.

Using a patented electrochemical process, they have simultaneously extracted dissolved CO2 ions and created hydrogen gas from seawater. The resulting mixture of gases is then reformed into long-chain hydrocarbons in a chemical reaction.

The key to the process is the realization that a liter of seawater contains 140 times as much CO2 as a liter of air. In seawater, nearly all of the CO2 is actually in the form of bicarbonate ions, which should make extraction from water fairly straightforward because of the electrical charge [that] they carry.

Since it is entirely feasible to use non-fossil energy sources to power the process, the fuel created could be essentially fossil-free (carbon neutral) gasoline. The oceans and atmosphere exchange CO2 readily in massive quantities, so taking it from one place is functionally the same as taking it from the other.

The N.R.L. press release puts the cost of their new process at between $3 and $6 per gallon.

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