Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, may have just changed the world forever. On April 7, 2014, it was announced that NRL has successfully tested a small aircraft which converts seawater into fuel. The following is an excerpt:
Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrated proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.
Fueled by a liquid hydrocarbon — a component of NRL’s novel gas-to-liquid (GTL) process that uses CO2 and H2 as feedstock — the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled (RC) P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf (OTS) and unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.
Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.
“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game-changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”
You can learn much more about the revolutionary breakthrough by visiting the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory at Navy.mil. And for a terrific easy-to-understand breakdown of this extraordinary achievement you can visit DiscoverMagazine.com. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy).