This Tiny Plane Just Flew Using Fuel Made Out Of Seawater

This scaled-down replica of a World War II-era fighter plane may not look so unusual on the outside. But inside of the engine is something exceptional: a fuel made with a new process using seawater.

The plane, and the fuel inside it, are the work of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, who announced that they've developed a technology that pulls carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and uses them as part of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel

Demonstrating that the fuel is capable of flying the radio-controlled plane is a big step, but what really has them excited is what could happen next: They hope that the process could eventually be used to develop a replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel, this time in planes of standard sizes.

"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," explained Heather Willauer, a research chemist working on the project.

The NRL estimates that, if all goes well, the development of replacement jet fuels could be expected as soon as within the next 7-10 years.

Image: Naval Research Laboratory