The U.S. Navy Is Trying To Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel

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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.

Sounds complicated, and maybe a little too pot-o'-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow, but the Navy has been good enough to make like a USMC drill instructor and break it down Barney style for us.

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.


There hasn't been any word about how it worked out, but we reached out to the Naval Research Laboratory for comment.


What do you think? Does this sound like hocus pocus, or is there some merit to this seawater alchemy? Sound off in Kinja.

Photo credit: Associated Press