It is a truism that in warfare amateurs study tactics while professionals study logistics. This maxim is no truer than in the United States Navy, which is required to keep fleets of ships supplies for long periods of time in distant oceans.
While many ships, such as aircraft carriers and submarines, rely on nuclear power plants, other ships still run on diesel fuel. This means, from time to time, a destroyer or other ship has to cease operations and lay alongside a tanker to take on more fuel. This can disrupt operations and is expensive.
According to a recent article in Discovery Magazine, the navy is working on this problem by tapping into the one resource that is in abundance in the ocean – sea water.
The way the process will work is that hydrogen and CO2 will be extracted from sea water. CO2 is being absorbed into sea water by human industrial processes, according to NOAA.Then the gasses will be processed through a catalytic converter to create fuel. It is hoped that in a few years every ship in the Navy will be able to make its own fuel from surrounding sea water, not just for ships but also for aircraft.
The implications of this new technology are profound, and not just for the Navy. Every nuclear powered aircraft carrier is accompanied by a task force of cruisers and destroyers that are powered by more conventional fuel. Soon every one of those ships will be able to make its own fuel, thus maintaining themselves on station for much longer without interruption. One part of the logistical chain will no longer be necessary/
If the process can be made to be cost effective, there are obvious civilian applications. There will be an alternative to pumping oil out of the ground and refining it into fuel. Now companies can build coastal fuel plants that can pump in sea water and pump out fuel. Thus every country with a sea coast can be its own Saudi Arabia. Energy will be as abundant as the oceans.