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Ear to the Ground

New Kind of Power Plant Gets Energy From Salt Water

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Posted on Nov 25, 2009

A Norwegian company thinks it can squeeze enough electricity out of the natural phenomenon of osmosis to power China. Right now the company’s plant can barely heat a tea kettle, but officials hope to power a village in a few years, and a lot more after that.

It works by separating seawater and freshwater with a membrane through which only the freshwater can move. The salty water pulls freshwater through, creating enough pressure to turn a turbine.

There’s a lot working against this. Did we mention it can barely heat a tea kettle at the moment? But if someone can figure it out, the technology is very promising in terms of environmental friendliness. It’s clean and renewable without the weather dependencies of wind and solar power.

And the Earth is just lousy with seawater—although one wonders where all this fresh water is supposed to come from. That’s been a major obstacle for other renewable energy plants.  —PZS

Press release and video here.

BBC via Engadget:

At first it will produce a minuscule 4 kilowatts - enough to heat a large electric kettle.

But by 2015 the target is 25 megawatts - the same as a small wind farm.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 27, 2009 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Meanwhile, in NYC, they’ve already installed a couple of low-RPM tidal turbines to try to harness the rather violent currents of the East River to produce electricity. 

How this happened with Con Ed’s opposition to ALL alternatives to….Con Ed is a mystery.  Con Ed successfully opposed steam-driven mini-generators in buildings. (NYC still has many buildings heated by steam supplied under the streets by the Con as utility).  Con Ed also successfully opposed tall buildings using natural gas to power mini-gens on their roofs—which would also reduce pollution in the City.

And do you think all those skyscrapers will EVER have wind turbines up where the wind ALWAYS blows? NFW!

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