Seawater into Jetfuel: U.S. Navy Turns to the Ocean for Green Power Source


With the abundance of water on the planet, one would think science would look to turn to the ocean for energy resources instead of fossil fuels. The U.S. Navy has engineered a way to do just that. Naval scientists have figured out how to extract carbon dioxide from seawater, leaving hydrogen gas, which can then be used as a fuel.

The discovery was made by the Naval Research Laboratory, located in Washington, D.C., and according to the NRL, the process by which they extract the carbon dioxide from seawater is environmentally beneficial. As the carbon dioxide is extracted from the ocean, more greenhouse gas can be reabsorbed, reducing concentrations in the atmosphere.

With the need to look for alternatives to fossil fuels apparent, hydrogen has been introduced as a potential clean energy source. Hydrogen can be extracted from water and used to power fuel cells. As the vehicle runs, it gives off water vapor for exhaust, instead of excessive amounts of carbon. The Navy’s latest discovery does not power fuel cells, though. Rather, it turns the extracted hydrogen into a type of jet fuel, which can then power its ships. After the hydrogen is extracted, it is processed into a liquid fuel. The Navy stated that this process drastically alters the refueling process, saving what could be precious hours at a time when every second counts.

Other new technologies have emerged lately, which look to turn ocean currents into electricity. Eaton Corporation is a power management company looking to the seas, hopeful to replace the ever present need for fossil fuels. Eaton has partnered with Triton, a U.S. based submarine company, to build an ocean floor turbine powered by ocean currents. Ocean currents are caused by differences in salt levels as well as shifting temperatures. They run at consistent speeds, and Eaton Corp believes they can be harnessed to help alleviate some of the world’s power needs in a renewable manner.

Several states are also getting on board with new forms of hydroelectric power. The Ocean Renewable Power Company has established a tidal power system in the Bay of Fundy, located on the border of Canada and eastern Maine. Tidal power generates electricity by harnessing the power of the tides. According to ORPC, the Bay of Fundy has enough tidal energy to power 8,000 locomotives.

Whether you are harnessing the power of the waves, or extracting hydrogen from the water itself, the ocean is a resource of which we have only just begun to turn to, for our power needs. As the world’s oil will not be able to sustain us forever, we must seek out renewable sources of fuel. The Navy’s breakthrough in hydrogen extraction for fuel is a cost effective and green method of powering the ships and vehicles of tomorrow. The oil industry and their powerful lobby have prevented breakthroughs like this from coming to light for as long as there has been competition in the marketplace.

In this age of information, however, it is only a matter of time before the realization that engaging alternative energy resources is a matter of survival and not just a luxury.

Sources: IEEE Spectrum, Ocean Renewable Power Company, US Department of Energy.

This article (Seawater into Jetfuel: U.S. Navy Turns to the Ocean for Green Power Source) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Alek Hidell and


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