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Powered by the Elements: First U.S. Navy Ship, Aircraft Scheduled To Launch

Using the elements as a near endless source of fuel is no longer an element of science fiction movies.

This week, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Materials Science and Technology Division announced they have achieved proof of concept for the new technology. “It is a huge milestone for us.” ┬ásaid Vice admiral Phillip Cullom

The new process is based on extracting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from sea water. A catalytic converter then transforms them into a fuel. Unlike the nano-fue lcell employed by the Quant-E, however, the requirement is that the fuel generated can be used in conventional engines already in use. The device used is only described as an “innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM)” leaving us in the dark about the materials employed. However, thinking of the amounts of platinum group metals used in petrochemical catalysts and automotive catalysts and the prospect of seeing them losing relevance a decade from now should be unsettling to some.

Ironically, the Navy’s proof of concept was conducted using a model airplane at the same time when Swiss entrepreneurs Piccard and Borschberg unveiled their “Solar Impulse 2” aircraft featuring the wingspan wider than that of a Boeing 747. The plane relies entirely on solar power captured by massive photovoltaic modules likely to contain silver as well as specialty metals like Gallium, Indium and Germanium. The plane will carry out test flights in May before it will depart from Switzerland sometime next year to fly around the world in five days non-stop, storing the sun’s energy to stay in the air at night.

The takeaway from these announcements is that surprising and astonishing developments of new, sustainable concepts are maturing everywhere in the world to the point where we will see results in action. What is for certain is that all of these products will employ electronics, high tech and technology metals even if in some cases precious metals are being replaced with novel nano-tech membranes or devices. The future is now, it is incredibly exciting, and it is enabled by technology metals.

(Picture: Solar Impulse)

By Bodo Albrecht



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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