Nanotechnology harvests energy through the natural power of osmosis
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Spotted: As the world transitions away from fossil fuels, innovators are searching for new sources of energy. While hydropower, wind, and solar are already well-established, another emerging energy source takes advantage of the different salinity levels of salt and fresh water. Bio-based materials on a nanoscale can be used to harvest the energy that is produced when freshwater empties into the sea at river mouths. French energy company Sweetch Energy has developed ‘INOD technology’ that is making this possibility a reality. And best of all? As long as the river flows steadily, the energy supply will be steady.
Called osmotic energy, such steadiness and abundance is relatively rare among renewables, making the solution a reliable source of power for communities on the coast and beyond. Sweetch Energy’s proprietary electrode systems combined with nanoscale membranes minimises energy loss during conversion and transport.
Sweetch Energy and CNR, France’s leading producer of renewable power, recently announced their partnership in building the world’s first osmotic power plant. Located in the Rhone delta, the largely untapped source of energy will add another option to CNR’s solar, wind, and hydro offer.
The oceans are a global asset, so finding ways to keep them healthy while taking advantage of their size and power is a complex challenge. Two innovations spotted by Springwise that make great use of saltwater is an ocean-assisted carbon removal plant and a portable lamp powered by seawater.
Written By: Keely Khoury