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This low-cost catalyst helps turn seawater into fuel at scale

This low-cost catalyst helps turn seawater into fuel at scale thumbnail
Replenishment oiler USNS Joshua Humphreys refuels USS Boxer.A replenishment oiler, left, refuels a naval ship at sea. The Porosoff research group at the University of Rochester has demonstrated that a potassium-promoted molybdenum carbide catalyst can help the US Navy achieve its goal of converting seawater to fuel, effectively eliminating the need for traditional refueling operations. (Getty Images photo)
For the first time, Rochester chemical engineers have demonstrated a ‘potassium-promoted’ catalyst’s potential for use on an industrial scale.

Now, the Navy’s quest to power its ships by converting seawater into fuel is nearer fruition.

Reactor at OxEon Energy.

This reactor at OxEon Energy was used to validate the effectiveness of the potassium-promoted molybdenum carbide catalyst on an industrial scale. (OxEon Energy photo)

University of Rochester chemical engineers—in collaboration with researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory, the University of Pittsburgh, and OxEon Energy—have demonstrated that a potassium-promoted molybdenum carbide catalyst efficiently and reliably converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a critical step in turning seawater into fuel.

“This is the first demonstration that this type of molybdenum carbide catalyst can be used on an industrial scale,” says Marc Porosoff, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Rochester. In a paper in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the researchers describe an exhaustive series of experiments they conducted at molecular, laboratory, and pilot scales to document the catalyst’s suitability for scale-up.

If navy ships could create their own fuel from the seawater they travel through, they could remain in continuous operation. Other than a few nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, most navy ships must periodically align themselves alongside tanker ships to replenish their fuel oil, which can be difficult in rough weather. The project could also provide fuel for fighter jets on the nuclear-powered carriers.

In 2014, a Naval Research Laboratory team led by Heather Willauer announced it had used a catalytic converter to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and then converted the gases into liquid hydrocarbons at a 92 percent efficiency rate.

Since then, the focus has been on increasing the efficiency of the process and scaling it up to produce fuel in sufficient quantities.

A key step in the seawater-to-fuel conversion process

The carbon dioxide extracted from seawater is extremely difficult to convert directly into liquid hydrocarbons with existing methods. So, it is necessary to first convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide via the reverse water-gas shift (RWGS) reaction. The carbon monoxide can then be converted into liquid hydrocarbons via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

Madeline Vonglis operates lab equipment.

Madeline Vonglis ’20, who interned with the Porosoff research group last summer, conducted many of the laboratory-scale experiments to characterize the potassium-promoted molybdenum carbide catalyst, and is second author on the Energy & Environmental Science paper. She’ll begin her PhD in chemical engineering this fall at Pennsylvania State University. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Typically, catalysts for RWGS contain expensive precious metals and deactivate rapidly under reaction conditions. However, the potassium-modified molybdenum carbide catalyst is synthesized from low-cost components and did not show any signs of deactivation during continuous operation of the 10-day pilot-scale study. That’s why this demonstration of the molybdenum carbide catalyst is important.

Porosoff, who first began working on the project while serving as a postdoctoral research associate with Willauer’s team, discovered that adding potassium to a molybdenum carbide catalyst supported on a surface of gamma alumina could serve as a low-cost, stable, and highly selective catalyst for converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide during RWGS.

The potassium lowers the energy barrier associated with the RWGS reaction, while the gamma alumina—marked with grooves and pores, much like a sponge—helps ensure that the molybdenum carbide catalyst particles remain dispersed, maximizing the surface area available for reaction, Porosoff says.

To determine whether potassium-promoted molybdenum carbide might also be useful for capturing and converting carbon dioxide from power plants, the research group will conduct further experiments to test the catalyst’s stability when exposed to common contaminants found in flue gas such as mercury, sulfur, cadmium, and chlorine.

Rochester coauthors include lead author Mitchell Juneau, a PhD student in the Porosoff research group, and Madeline Vonglis ’20, a former undergraduate researcher.

An Office of Naval Research award supported this project.

29 Comments on "This low-cost catalyst helps turn seawater into fuel at scale"

  1. makati1 on Sat, 5th Nov 2022 3:48 pm 

    Hahahahahahaha! Science fiction paid for by the US taxpayer fools. It might have a limited success in the lab, but will never scale up to practicability, just like fusion.

    Pass the San Mig lite! The Green insanity is going ballistic.

  2. FamousDrScanlon on Sat, 5th Nov 2022 3:54 pm 

    I’m a skeptic, but if they ever roll it out at scale commercially, I’ll be the first to congratulate them.

  3. jawagord on Sat, 5th Nov 2022 11:10 pm 

    Only the military could justify something so ridiculous and continue to fund the research. This article is more upfront about some of the problems.

  4. Theedrich on Sun, 6th Nov 2022 2:29 am 

    The United States is a cancer on the planet. The Washington crime syndicate oversees a system of plunder of the American population.  See, for example, the 2022 Congressional Pig Book.  As everyone can see, America is in the grip of the bribe-ocratic, digital-financial complex of the World Economic Forum which hates free speech and independent thinking.  However, due to the globalist dictators and the extreme complexity of the political-economic situation, the U.S. is becoming ever more insane.  It is talking about nuclear war in order to make the world more agreeable to homosexuals and coloreds.  The masses, who have no idea what modern war is, seem willing to go along with this drift into madness, since they keep electing the same (especially Democrat, but also ignorant Republican) warmongers to political power.

    The god of death is waiting expectantly for Biden’s Armageddon.

    𝖁𝖊𝖗𝖎𝖙𝖆𝖘 𝖑𝖎𝖇𝖊𝖗𝖆𝖇𝖎𝖙 𝖛𝖔𝖘.

  5. SilentRunning2 on Sun, 6th Nov 2022 4:34 am 

    My prediction: No useful amount of net energy will be extracted from seawater using this technology.

  6. peakyeast on Sun, 6th Nov 2022 11:44 am 

    lol.. This is nothing but a piece of propaganda to make people hope for something – I suppose the fusion just around the corner is not working much better today than the e-cat and the s-cat and so they need yet another mirage.

  7. makati1 on Sun, 6th Nov 2022 3:18 pm 

    I agree with all of the above assertions. More proof of the dumbed down, brainwashed Amerika serf.

  8. Everything will be documented on Sun, 6th Nov 2022 7:21 pm 

    Earth has been setup by GOD as an execution chamber. We are looking at the first planetary genocide of all the life on earth done by GOD himself. Nothing will stop what is about to happen.

    GOD run the entropic degradation equation set, the energy equations of earth, and the naturel resources equations of earth. Earth is a trap to kill undesirable beings.

    Everything will be documented and put in a book. The next bible book will be book telling the story of earth genocide done by GOD.

  9. Expect South Africa in Everywhere on Mon, 7th Nov 2022 7:59 am 

    Rishi Sunak represent really well the end of western civilization and the terminal demographic decline of the White race. I took the right decision when I decided to install him as PM of UK.

    The Indian and negros are considered the inferior races in this reality. Everything these races touched they turn into shit. Expect the end of UK and western nations. Expect them to look like South Africa.

  10. makati1 on Mon, 7th Nov 2022 2:35 pm 

    It’s called “The Great Leveling” or as that WEF psycho calls it, “The Great Reset”. So be it. The West is a landfill economy, wasting the world’s resources in a system that cannot continue for much longer. Sorry all those Westerner born after 1980, you will soon learn how to live without, like you have condemned the other humans to live for the last 500+ years.

  11. adonis on Mon, 7th Nov 2022 5:46 pm 

    unbelievable we might all be saved

  12. Dredd on Tue, 8th Nov 2022 8:52 am 

    What’s up with your containment entity (Quantum Biology – 15).

  13. makati1 on Tue, 8th Nov 2022 3:11 pm 

    Erection Day in Amerika where the serfs waste time and money to “vote” for the next corrupt Congress. Term limits, and removing the corporate money from the process, might restore Amerika to a kind of democracy, but that will never happen. A 3rd world lifestyle is in their future. So be it.

  14. FamousDrScanlon on Tue, 8th Nov 2022 7:20 pm 

    “I’m a Russia expert who spent several years living in post-Soviet Russia.”

    Is American democracy on the brink of collapse?

    Political violence, surging ethnonationalism, economic stagnation: the US today resembles the Soviet Union just before it fell

    “As an American born into a conservative Christian family, I grew up surrounded by chauvinist messaging that I was living in “the greatest country in the world”. This message was reinforced in the popular media I was allowed to consume, and also at home, at church and in my Christian school, where pupils’ inculcation in Christian nationalism extended to the recitation of not just one, but three pledges every morning: to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible.”

    “Should Trump return to power in the 2024 presidential election, “liberalism will be marginalized and right-wing Christian groups super-empowered, while violence by vigilante, paramilitary groups will rise sharply.”

    If the republi-pukes force a theocracy upon the American people the USA will then become the the 7th, out of 195, nation to become a theocracy:
    Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City & Yemen. In a way I would include North Korea as a theocracy since they have gone to great lengths & spared no expense to deify the Kim family while their form of communism serves as their religion.

    It’ll be doubly awesome if a victorious & holy, team Trump cram the constitution, bill of rights & as many evil libtards as they can round up into the capitol building then burn it to the ground. (we don’t need no stinkin constitution)

    Jesus would burn it down if he was here. Jesus was all about killing people you’ve never met & especially if they believe in things you do not.

    I can’t wait for Donald Trump to be officially ordained as America’s very first “Chief Pastor”.

    It’ll be great!! Trump’s image managers will borrow one of those giant goofy miters that bishops & the Pope wear {exactly like this one} —–> and place it upon Trump’s head at the crowning ceremony. A week later, just like Julius Caesar, Trump will have the US senate vote him dictator for life……history rhymes.

  15. Cloggie on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 8:01 am 

    Why not?

    This is just one of the endless methods to store renewable energy. Nothing to make fun about.

    Some, or a few, methods will eventually gain the upper hand.

  16. Cloggie on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 8:30 am 

    This method is investigated, not to make the planet “greener”, but since this is the US we are talking about, this method is intended to convert nuclear power from carriers into jet fuel, creating the opportunity to stay at sea much longer, without having to refuel.

    Haha, Americans working towards a greener planet, priceless!

  17. FamousDrScanlon on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 12:51 pm 

    I predicted the Dems would get slaughtered in the midterms. I got that one wrong.

    Americans love their nutty conspiracy theories, but perhaps it’s more a form of entertainment than anything else?

    Fox News Pundit Declares, ‘This Is an Absolute Disaster for the Republican Party’ as Midterm Result

    Republicans hoped a “red wave” would sweep them into power with clear majorities.”

    “There’s a broader issue, which is, think about this. We had the worst inflation in four decades, the worst collapse in real wages in 40 years, the worst crime wave since the 1990s, the worst border crisis in U.S. History. We have Joe Biden, who is the least popular president since Harry Truman – since presidential polling happened – and there wasn’t a red wave.”

    Show me the politician who can put the low hanging fruit back on the energy tree & I will support them.

  18. makati1 on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 2:46 pm 

    The US is now a full fledged 3rd world country. Any pretention about being a “democracy” is gone. It is “1984” on steroids. So be it. Well deserved.

  19. FamousDrScanlon on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 6:15 pm 

    If you want a real conspiracy look no further than the never ending hysterical alarmist “Eco Terrorists” articles. Christ, given the amount of coverage they get you’d think environmentalists were murdering hundreds of people every year. The exact opposite of that is happening

    Endless paragraphs of paranoia, but zero body count since the unabomber. Ted Kaczynski killed three people and injured 23 others with the last incident in 1995 when he snuffed out a worthless scumbag PR man Exxon hired after their drunken sailor crashed & broke open the Exxon Valdez. Fuck all those PR & marketing scum. I remember laughing about that in 1995.

    Government Surveillance at 2022 U.N. Climate Conference

    The official conference app is spyware

    “The revelation, as more than 25,000 heads of state, diplomats, negotiators, journalists and activists from around the world gather at the climate summit that starts in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, has raised concerns that Egypt’s authoritarian regime will be able to use an official platform for a United Nations event to track and harass attendees and critical domestic voices.

    The official Cop27 app, which has already been downloaded more than 5,000 times, requires sweeping permissions from users before it installs, including the ability for Egypt’s ministry of communications and information technology to view emails, scour photos and determine users’ locations, according to an expert who analysed it for the Guardian.”

    25,000 phony cunts & everyone of them know it’s a big phony show to string along the sheep & gatekeep for the world’s worst polluters.

    Here’s Robert Hunziker just prior to COP out 26 last year exposing the COP outs for the charade they are.

    “The upcoming 26th COP (Conference of the Parties) to be held November 2021 in Glasgow is on the docket for scientists and bureaucrats, as well as big moneyed interests, to knock heads in a formal setting to discuss the state of the planet. If all goes according to plan, like past COPs, powerful economic interests will sabotage what would otherwise be a rather dim forecast of a planet in various stages of collapse, some terminal.

    We’ve seen this act (COP) repeat over and over, ever since COP1 in Berlin in 1995, as each successive COP-ending-ceremony finds the Parties congratulating each other, slaps on the back, for one more successful climate conference of 20,000-30,000 able-bodied professionals wiped-out from overconsumption of Beluga caviar and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, but subsequently carbon emissions increase the following year, and every following year thereafter. What’s to congratulate?

    More to the point, the annualized CO2 emissions rate is +60% since COP1, not decreasing, not going down, not once. After 25 years of the same identical pattern, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the take-home-work from all 25 COPs mysteriously turns into the antithesis of the mission statement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

    Report says 200 environmental activists killed globally in 2021

    There’s no end to the number of reasons why humans deserve to be killed by climate change & the other Overshoot consequences. That is if you believe in a just world, freewill & all that other horse shit.

  20. makati1 on Wed, 9th Nov 2022 9:37 pm 

    Just read that, Tuvalu, a piss-ant Pacific island country attending the cop27, wants the world to give up all FFs because their postage stamp (10sq miles) island seems to be sinking. Total population: `12,000. There are more than that living in the small town near me. Send them to Australia. About 25 commercial planes could do it in a day. Is insanity spreading, even to remote atolls?

  21. Hello on Thu, 10th Nov 2022 8:29 am 

    Cherson retaken by ukraine.

    Vlad’s expedition is a total disaster. We have one of the most feared armies not able to conquer and hold on to a few 100 km of land. Mind you, this is not some far-flung expedition half around the globe with difficult supply lines. This is right next to russia with russia itself not being attacked at all. The supply situation can’t get any easier.

    Yet all it takes is some western hardware and a few farmers willing to fight to stop and make the juggernaut retreat.

    I would never have thought this possible.

    What is Vlad going to do? Will he finally pull the nuclear option and risk the destruction of russia?

  22. Dredd on Thu, 10th Nov 2022 9:27 am 

    One think is for sure (Small Brains Considered – 12).

  23. makati1 on Thu, 10th Nov 2022 2:34 pm 

    Hello, I’m sure that Russia could take/destroy the Ukraine, or for that matter, the US, in a day if that was its goal. Your parroting of the USMSM propaganda makes you one of the dumbed down fools in the West.

    It is the insane megalomaniacs in DC that want a world war or even nukes, and the end of the world, to cover their failing government called Amerika. The West is sinking into the 3rd world faster every day. So be it.

  24. Biden’s hairplug on Thu, 10th Nov 2022 5:09 pm 

    Hello, stop talking like a little hysterical girl. This is not a big thing. Ukraine dud NOT conquer Kherson, instead Russia choose to withdraw on the badis of a rational risk assessment. Scott Ritter explains it very well:

    The Russians are playing for time, not square miles. They wait for:

    – results midterms
    – energy shortages biting in Europe
    – China being ready to take Taiwan
    – Many countries flocking to BRICS and adopting a new reserve currency
    – increased polarization with US

    This is going to take several years, just like WW2. Time is working against the West and for the BRICS.

    You better worry about your own food and heating and leave the war to the Russians. They are good at it.

  25. FamousDrScanlon on Thu, 10th Nov 2022 5:15 pm 

    1988 is when qualified scientists & envirotards began the call to reduce emissions via reducing burning fossil fuels or else.

    Since 1988 not one drop of oil has been spared on account of saving the climate or any other environmental reasons.

    Only paranoid ignorant conservatives have felt threatened, with much encouragement from talk radio, by the so called environmental movement & celebrity environmentalists.

    For over 20 years every time the
    MSM ran a climate change piece featuring Al Gore, Carl Sagan or Bill Nye, millions of male conservatives got triggered big time & went bonkers flooding social media with their hysterical hate filled comments which I personally find hilarious. Oh let’s not forget to add conservatives most feared & hated climate fighter, Greta Thunberg, to the list of impotent environmentalists. Tiny teenage Greta still triggers millions everyday – you can feel your heart thumping & your blood rushing from merely seeing Greta’s name in the title.

    All that hate-N-rage over a non existent threat. The non existent threat of the so called environmental movement.

    Show me. Show me the evidence of the environmental movement preventing fossil fuels from being used.

    Below is a graph of CO2 emissions since 1940.

    Now starting at 1988 on that graph tell me at what point CO2 emissions nose dives because of Al Gore, Greta or any other “climate fighters”?

    You can’t because no such point exists, nor does it exist on an oil extraction & consumption graph or almost any graph tracking consumption of any natural resource by the Mega-Cancer. Why not? Because the enviro-climate movement & it’s legion of fighters, pros & amateurs, are ineffectual windbags & almost all of the big environmental NGO’s are captured & corrupted & serve as gate keepers & hope/BS producers for the corporate interests that essentially own them or control the management.

    The great irony is most of the denier-tards also think the big environmental NGO’s are corrupt, but for different/wrong reasons.

    Anyone remember the 2, 1998, planet destroying, comet heading for The Earth movies? ‘Deep Impact’ & “Armageddon”.

    In “Armageddon” TPTB try and keep the Doom comet a secret for fear of triggering mass panic, anarchy, nihilism, suicides, etc.

    In ‘Deep Impact’ hero black POTUS Morgan Freeman, announces to the world that a Doom comet is on track to impact Earth in one year’s time.

    QIn the real world, which is the most likely choice for TPTB; tell the masses or try & deny, delay, downplay or hide the awful bad news?

    In my experience, over 50 years of observing TPTB operate, they only announce bad news if they have to & almost always try & downplay it and/or streeeeeeeeeeach it out & feed it to the people bit by bit & minimize.

    Q If a majority of Earth’s most powerful PTB knew that runaway climate change & the rest of the Overshoot consequences were going to, in a matter of decades, extinct the human race or result in the destruction of civilization & a colossal human die-back, would they tell us? If you were a shot caller would you tell the masses? Would you tell your loved ones?

    As for Greta, she seems to have a nicely working Bull Shit detector kit & bigger balls than every man @cop-out27.

    Greta Thunberg to skip ‘greenwashing’ Cop27 climate summit in Egypt

    Swedish climate activist says the UN’s climate conference will be ‘used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention’

    Greta Thunberg: I don’t want to go into politics

    “Climate activist Greta Thunberg has said she will not pursue a career in politics – because it is too “toxic”.

    “It’s too much responsibility,” Ms Thunberg said. “Sometimes I can snap. I say, ‘If you think that all the hope in the world rests on burned-out teenagers’ shoulders, I mean, that’s not very good.”’

    Targeted on Twitter by several world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, she has responded usually by changing her Twitter profile.

    “I just think it’s genuinely funny,” she said. “I mean, the most powerful people in the world feel intimidated by teenagers. That is funny. It says more about them than it does about me.”

    That young lady is wise beyond her years.

  26. Dredd on Fri, 11th Nov 2022 12:43 pm 

    Political science has become pseudo-science that hampers climate science (Small Brains Considered – 12).

  27. peakyeast on Sat, 12th Nov 2022 6:06 am 

    So first extraction of CO2 from seawater. What is the energy cost of that?

    Then converting it to monoxide. What is the efficiency of that?

    The converting it into hydrocarbon (FT). What is the efficiency of that?

    The losses in FT alone makes the 94% efficiency very unlikely.

    I guess that is why they do not break down the efficiency and energy inputs into all of the steps and input material(s)….

  28. SilentRunning2 on Mon, 14th Nov 2022 7:03 pm 

    It looks like the University of Rochester has stopped teaching the Conservation of Energy in their chemistry courses. You can’t take ashes of burned fuel and sprinkle a magic catalyst on it and then burn it again to get more energy.

    This project is nothing more than CLICKBAIT.

  29. Abigail on Wed, 16th Nov 2022 7:13 pm 

    Cherson retaken by ukraine.Just read that. Thanks for sharing this Potara Earrings

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