A method to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater has been patented by the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
NRL says this seawater carbon capture process, the first to receive s US patent, provides all the raw materials necessary for the production of synthetic liquid hydrocarbon fuels — and this provides logistical and operational advantages to the Navy. The Electrolytic Cation Exchange Module (E-CEM), not only will reduce the Navy’s fossil fuel dependence but it also gives it the capability to produce fuel stock, such as LNG, CNG, F-76 and JP-5, at sea or in remote locations.
Located at NRL’s Marine Corrosion Facility, Key West, Florida, the E-CEM has demonstrated proof-of-concept for a simultaneous recovery process of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater. The carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas recovered from the seawater as feedstock are catalytically converted to hydrocarbons in a second additional synthetic process step.
“Building on the success of the first exchange module, we have scaled-up the carbon capture process to improve efficiency and substantially increase feedstock production,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, research chemist, NRL. “Using a scaled-up, second generation E-CEM prototype, we will substantially increase CO2 and H2 production capable of producing up to one gallon of fuel per day, an increase nearly 40 times greater than with the earlier generation E-CEM.”
To accommodate increased feedstock production, NRL is also scaling up the catalyst system to synthesize fuel from CO2 and H2. Having fully realized the product distribution of hydrocarbons using a small plug flow chemical reactor, NRL has recently partnered with a commercial entity to test the catalyst using their large-scale chemical reactor. The team hopes to have the two processes operating at Key West by late 2016.
Meanwhile Ford is developing new foam and plastic car components made from captured carbon dioxide. It expects the new biomaterials, produced by Novomer and still undergoing testing, will be in Ford production vehicles within the next five years.
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