Modern day alchemists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are figuring out how to use chemistry to turn seawater into jet fuel. By pulling carbon dioxide from seawater and using it to produce hydrogen, they hope someday to shift the Navy's fuel demands from foreign oil to alternative sources.
How it Works: CO2 + H2 = Jet Fuel
The technology is being tested now in the Gulf of Mexico, and researchers predict that once production scales up, the cost to make synthetic seawater fuel will be between $3 and $6 per gallon.
This development comes on the heels of the navy's biennial RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) training excercises, during which a 450,000 batch of biofuel was tested on ships and planes. The idea is to wean the U.S. Navy off of foreign energy supplies, which should in turn decrease its operational costs and increase its security. Sounds reasonable in theory, and energy use consumption is something that's apparently been a naval policy goal since the first Bush administration.
Not surprisingly, the use of alternative fuels by the military has been a politically contentious issue, with (Republican) members of Congress criticizing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for spending money on untried technology.