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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