For decades, humans have relied on a number of methods to harness energy including solar and power. Osmotic energy is a new way to create clean energy just by using water, salt water, and a tiny membrane. The end result is optimized power in a more resourceful way.
Osmotic energy is created when salt and fresh water collide. To harness this energy, scientists use two containers, one with fresh water and the other with salt water, with a thin barrier, called a membrane, between them. The salt in the containers tries to reach an equilibrium, which occurs when it balances itself and creates an equal amount of salt on each side of the membrane. This balancing power process is called osmosis.
Furthermore, all of the salt in the water has an electrical charge. This electrical charge, or energy, which is harnessed when it passes through the membrane. The thinner the membrane, the more energy can pass the barrier through.
A NanoMerrick biology laboratory located in Switzerland recently manufactured a generator that uses osmotic energy, which is very efficient. In fact, a membrane one square meter in size is able to generate one megavolt—enough to power almost 50,000 light bulbs. This highly-effective process is currently being tested in many locations around the world including Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Humans obtain energy in many different ways, one popular method is solar panels, which require sun, turbines, and wind in to produce energy. But when resources like wind and sunlight aren’t available, osmotic energy could be one viable solution to produce the amount of energy on which our society relies.