27.09.2012 – Osmotic power
Torsdag 27. september 2012, kl. 12.15-13.00, auditorium R9, Realfagbygget, NTNU Gløshaugen, Trondheim
Foredragsholder: Inger Lise Alsvik, stipendiat ved Institutt for kjemisk prosessteknologi, NTNU
When fresh water mixes with salt water, enormous amounts of energy are released. This energy can be utilized for the generation of power through osmosis. In an osmotic power process the free energy of mixing is converted to potential mechanical energy by the use of a semi-permeable membrane. In a fresh water/salt water system, the water flows from the fresh water side to the salt water side. A pressure builds up at the salt water side, and this can be used to run a turbine to generate electric power.
The total global potential for osmotic power has been calculated to be ~1370 TWh/year, equivalent to the electrical consumption of 520 million people. The concept of osmotic power was first introduced by Sidney Loeb in the 1970’s. Due to low prizes on electricity and poor membranes at the time, there were little or no commercial interests in developing osmotic power as an alternative energy source. However, in the late 1990’s the Norwegian company Statkraft invested in an osmotic power project, resulting in the opening of the world’s first osmotic power pilot plant November 2009.
One of the major obstacles to the completion of a full scale osmotic power plant (OPP) has been the lack of a membrane designed specifically for the process. Because current osmotic membranes are not optimized for the osmotic power process, the design of efficient membranes specifically for this process is essential for the advancement of this technology. Recently, several very promising membrane preparation methods for membranes designed for osmotic power have emerged. Are we one step closer to the realization of osmotic power as a new renewable energy source?
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