The US Navy has effectively turned seawater into usable fuel.
Dr. Heather Willauer and her team at the naval research lab have synthesized a liquid hydrocarbon fuel from seawater that has successfully been used to fly a radio-controlled aircraft with an unmodified combustion engine.
“We’ve developed a technology at the Naval Research Laboratory that does indeed process seawater,” Dr. Willauer said. “It pulls the components, carbon dioxide and hydrogen, from the seawater. Then we take those components and we recombine them over a NRL-developed catalyst to make, essentially, designer fuel.”
“We can produce, depending on the transition metal on the catalyst – for example iron, cobalt, nickel, copper – you can make methanol, you can make olefins that could be converted to jet fuel, you can make natural gas, all kinds of neat things. It’s amazing,” Dr. Willhauer said.
Also, according to Dr. Willhauer, “It’s a net-zero carbon footprint. So you’re taking the carbon, you put it in a fuel, it you burn it, it goes back [in] the atmosphere, but you’re not creating anything more”
There is a lot of development still needed before this process can be utilized on a commercial and industrial scale but the potential payoffs could be convenient, independent energy with little to no environmental burden.