U.S. Navy Develops Renewable Energy Technology to Turn Seawater into Fuel

Posted: 04/30/2014  browse the blog archive
U.S. Navy Develops Renewable Energy Technology to Turn Seawater into Fuel

The U.S. Navy developed a new technology that can turn seawater into fuel, announced International Business Times earlier this month.  The breakthrough comes after decades of experiments and work by scientists.

Although in the past scientists have distilled carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas separately from seawater, this new technology extracts both gasses from the seawater simultaneously.  The gasses are then turned into fuel through a gas-to-liquids process that uses catalytic converters, resulting in a liquid hydrocarbon fuel. 

Except for a few aircraft carriers and 72 submarines, the Navy’s 289 vessels rely solely on oil-based fuel, which can leave them vulnerable to fuel shortages and price fluctuations.  The renewable energy technology would allow the military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea.  Currently, vessels must navigate in parallel with an oil tanker for several hours to refuel, which is time-consuming and can be difficult in bad weather conditions.  Defense One noted that “with a stable and, hopefully, clean electricity source, seawater-based fuel could reduce dependence on oil or other polluting fuel sources, first in the military and then elsewhere.”

“It’s a huge milestone for us,” said Vice Adm. Philip Cullom.  “We are in very challenging times where we really do have to think in pretty innovative ways to look at how we create energy, how we value energy and how we consume it.  We need to challenge the results of assumptions that are the result of the last six decades of constant access to cheap, unlimited amounts of fuel.”

The Navy will now have to find a way to produce the fuel in industrial quantities.  According to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the new fuel is expected to initially cost between $3 and $6 per gallon.

The Chanler Group is actively engaged in the review and analysis of incentive-based renewable energy programs to determine potential benefits to our clients.  Global energy consumption continues to increase each year and, with this increase, the demand for safe, clean, and unlimited energy is on the rise.  The Federal and State governments promote this interest through a variety of financially-beneficial incentives.  Our understanding of these laws allows us to guide homeowners, businesses, and/or developers through the various ways to take advantage of these incentive-based benefits.  With the appreciation that renewable energy laws and regulations are constantly changing, The Chanler Group is committed to investing in its understanding and practice of this area of law.