The U.S. Navy needs a lot of fuel to keep running. That's especially a problem if you're thousands of miles from home or in hostile waters. But what if you could simply make your own fuel using the seawater that surrounds you? That's what the U.S. Navy wants to do, using a two-step process that turns seawater into jet fuel.
Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing ways to extract both carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from regular seawater, and then feeding these two components into a catalytic converter that converts them into what is essentially JP-5 jet fuel that can power the ships' engines. Of course, the process is actually way more complicated than that, but the upshot is that they believe it should be possible to generate sufficient fuel to keep the ship running. Luckily, seawater is one potential fuel supply that isn't exactly in short supply when you're at sea.
What's really impressive about this approach is that unlike that hydrogen-powered boat we saw last year, this system does not require an expensive refit of the ship's existing diesel engines. The Navy even says that the process is quite green, producing less harmful byproducts than using regular diesel fuel.
The obvious follow-up question is if this works for Navy ships, why can't we eventually start using converted seawater to power all kinds of vehicles?