In a bid to cut fuel consumption, new marine engines can recycle seawater that’s been treated with chemicals to improve its chemical resistance and reduce the risk of acidification, reports Wired.
These engines can run for up to five years, with the ability to be re-engineered once every three years.
The process uses a process called “hydrolysis” to separate seawater from seawater’s water.
When seawater is heated to around 160°C, the water can undergo chemical reactions to become anhydrous, which breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen.
These are then pumped into an engine, which can be turned on to convert the hydrogen and oxidised oxygen back into fuel.
It’s not yet clear how these engines work, but Wired suggests the process could provide an alternative to diesel-powered submarines.
“It’s a new concept, but it could be a great one,” said Matthew Miller, who heads the engineering department at the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“The process has a lot of potential to reduce the fuel use of ships, and this process is a promising way to do it.”
But the process can also result in the engines becoming more environmentally damaging, according to Wired.
“There are significant risks associated with this technology,” the article says.
“While this process can be done with a simple water filtration system, its environmental impact will be considerable, particularly when compared to conventional seawater re-filtration methods, and potentially lead to environmental problems in the long term.”
The new engines are expected to be commercially available by 2020.