(Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

It’s springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it comes some nifty alt-energy news:

– The Pentagon, having spent much of the last few decades fighting resource wars (and which knows all too well that thousand-mile-long gasoline supply lines are soft targets for attackers), is one of the few places in the Federal government with truly ample funding to research alternative energy. (The Joint Chiefs of Staff were among the first Americans to buy hybrid cars back in the early Aughts.) The Army uses portable solar and wind generators for forward operating bases and the Navy is working on pulling CO2 and H2 out of seawater and turning the two substances into aviation fuel, and flight tests (such as the one shown above using a scale model of a P-51 Mustang of the type flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II).

Why use seawater? Because the CO2 concentration in seawater is 140 times that of air, that’s why. The Navy’s researchers think that in another seven to ten years, their process could be used to make jet fuel for around $3 to $6 a gallon, which would make it close to being cost-competitive with conventional jet fuel, especially as conventional jet fuel isn’t going to get any cheaper.

– Here are the opening words to this story on growing agave plants under solar panels: “Solar power in the desert has problems: big land use requirements, and the need for scarce water to clean the panels and suppress dust. In an unrelated story, biofuels production has problems: life cycle greenhouse gas emission issues, and land use questions again. How about solving both sets of problems at once? Stanford researchers have modeled the co-location of solar panels with agave plants used to make ethanol, and found it to be a winning combination.”

– Finally, do check out Solar Roadways’ Indiegogo site and toss them a few coins if you’re so moved. Why crowdfund this way? Because they know if they were to “go public” in the traditional corporate sense, chances are good they’d be bought up by some billionaire who wouldn’t have their (or our) best interests at heart.

So what’s up with you all today?