Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blue Energy Seems Feasible And Offers Considerable Benefits

Date:
November 2, 2009
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
Generating energy on a large scale by mixing salt and fresh water is both technically possible and practical. The worldwide potential for this clean form of energy – 'blue energy' – is enormous. However, several essential technological developments are needed and investments in large-scale trials, a Dutch researcher says.

Generating energy on a large scale by mixing salt and fresh water is both technically possible and practical. The worldwide potential for this clean form of energy -- 'blue energy' or 'blue electricity' -- is enormous. However, it will be necessary to work actively on several essential technological developments and to invest heavily in large-scale trials.

On 3 November, Jan Post is presenting his research during his doctorate dissertation on this subject from Wageningen University.

The principle of generating electricity by mixing salt and fresh water, taking advantage of the difference in charge that results, has been known for more than 100 years. It was first tested in practice in a laboratory in the 1950s. There are two methods for generating blue energy: pressure-retarded osmosis and reverse electrodialysis.

Post, in his research, has focused mainly on the latter because it is the more attractive method of generating energy from sea and river water. With his research into the practical applicability, techniques and preconditions for large-scale energy generation from salinity gradients, he was the first to demonstrate that very high yields are possible. In the laboratory, it is possible to recover more than 80% of the energy from salinity gradients; the technical feasibility would be 60-70% and the economic feasibility a little lower than that.

There are differences among continents: the technical potential in Australia (65%) or Africa (61%) is greater than in South America (47%). There are also considerable differences between rivers -- there are 5472 large rivers worldwide. These differences depend on the salt concentration in the rivers and seas, temperature, and environmental factors. The Rhine is one of the most 'energetic' rivers in Europe.

Afsluitdijk

Post investigated the possibility of recovering energy from the Rhine and the Maas rivers. He estimated the technical potential of both rivers to be 2.4 gigawatts per year. He believes it would be economically feasible to recover 1.5 gigawatts; enough to supply 4 million households in the Netherlands. A power station of around 200 megawatts -- comparable with a park containing 200 wind turbines -- could be placed at the Afsluitdijk (the famous Closure Dike in the Northern part of the Netherlands) which, according to Post, is a rather suitable place for the large-scale trials that need to be carried out. This test location on the Afsluitdijk could be combined with the redesign of the dike that is already being planned. Heavy investment is necessary but this type of clean energy is extremely promising and, since it is essential to look for alternatives to fossil energy, this investment would be worthwhile in every respect. It will be at least ten years before the first commercial power stations are operational, Post says.

Technological developments

Post believes that in the next few years it will be necessary to work even more intensively on two technological developments that will bring down the present, rather high, price of generating blue electricity. An appropriate membrane technology should be developed and, furthermore, such membranes should become much cheaper by introducing mass production. The technique should also be robust enough to work both when the water is polluted and when living organisms accumulate on the membranes (biofouling). His research showed that both hindrances could be removed in the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Blue Energy Seems Feasible And Offers Considerable Benefits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029160119.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2009, November 2). Blue Energy Seems Feasible And Offers Considerable Benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029160119.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Blue Energy Seems Feasible And Offers Considerable Benefits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029160119.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A U.S. team found nearly 4,000 species in a subglacial lake that hasn't seen sunlight in millennia, showing life can thrive even under the ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins