Monday, April 14, 2014

Why the Flood of "Sea Water to Fuel" Articles Now?

This is just silly.

Over the weekend a lot of people have been breathless about what was the news of the fall of 2012. This from USAToday is just a sample;
In the not-too-distant future, the US Navy could be getting some fuel from the very seas it sails on. That's thanks to Navy researchers who say they've figured out a way to convert seawater into jet fuel, the Huffington Post reports.

Experts have been working on the idea for almost a decade,
It works by pulling carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water using a catalytic converter, Discover explains. Those gases are turned into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel that could, experts hope, power both planes and ships, AFP reports.

"We don't necessarily go to a gas station to get our fuel," Vice Admiral Philip Cullom tells AFP. "Our gas station comes to us in terms of an oiler, a replenishment ship.

Developing a game-changing technology like this, seawater to fuel, really is something that reinvents a lot of the way we can do business."
In addition to the above, you can find it all over the place from India's EconomicTimes, to the WashingtonTimes, to DODLive.

After scratching my head - I think everyone got hot and bothered because of this little trick. Good PR, but really people, calm down.

This isn't a game changer, yet. Give it time. We can then talk about the power requirements to make it happen (read nuclear), the footprint required to manufacture thousands of gallons of JP-5 a day, and what the EPA will have to say about what we have to do with the thousands of gallons of yet described chemical leftovers.

Until then, take a powder. Here is the post I did in SEPT 2012. Take a powder.

The Great Green Fleet? Bah! I will trade you all your fuzzy-headed Gaia-goobers for a gaggle of pocket-protector, high-water, short-sleeves-with-a-tie every day of the week! I had to read this twice to realize that ... well ... you read it twice.
Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. "The potential payoff is the ability to produce JP-5 fuel stock at sea reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden and increasing the Navy's energy security and independence," says research chemist, Dr. Heather Willauer.
Sure, you can read it all ... but you will have to figure this stuff out and it makes my Liberal Arts nogg'n hurt.
In the first step, an iron-based catalyst has been developed that can achieve CO2 conversion levels up to 60 percent and decrease unwanted methane production from 97 percent to 25 percent in favor of longer-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons (olefins). In the second step these olefins can be oligomerized (a chemical process that converts monomers, molecules of low molecular weight, to a compound of higher molecular weight by a finite degree of polymerization) into a liquid containing hydrocarbon molecules in the carbon C9-C16 range, suitable for conversion to jet fuel by a nickel-supported catalyst reaction.
Ummmm OK. I don't care .... you can oligomerize my olefins all day long and Saturday if you can make fuel out of salt-water. 

Take every red cent from the Green Navy and throw it at the NRL geeks. Making fuel from seawater? Yea - you read that right. Now, if our geeks can take what they have now, operationalize it, and then get even a little bit of Moore's Law going ... then yea. Ponder that writ large.

 Hat tip gCaptain.

1 comment:

belfor said...