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US Navy's model plane uses sea water as fuel

Apr 10 2014, 19:38 IST
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Researchers are now working on upscaling the system to a commercial scale. (Reuters) Researchers are now working on upscaling the system to a commercial scale. (Reuters)
SummaryUS Navy scientists have successfully flown a radio-controlled airplane that runs purely on fuel derived from sea water.

US Navy scientists have successfully flown a radio-controlled airplane that runs purely on fuel derived from sea water.

Scientists obtained the fuel using the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)'s gas-to-liquid technology, which involved removing carbon dioxide from water at 92 per cent efficiency while simultaneously producing hydrogen.

The CO2 and hydrogen gases were then converted into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel, using a metal catalyst in a separate reactor system, 'Gizmag' reported.

That fuel was used to power an RC model P-51 Mustang's unmodified two-stroke engine in a proof-of-concept test performed September last year at Blossom Point, Maryland.

The event marked the first time that the fuel had been used in a conventional combustion engine, the report said.

"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," said Dr Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist.

Researchers are now working on upscaling the system to a commercial scale.

Apart from its use in fuel production, the CO2 could also have applications in the fields of horticulture or aquaculture, NRL said.

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