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Nature. 2012 Aug 16;488(7411):313-9. doi: 10.1038/nature11477.

Membrane-based processes for sustainable power generation using water.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Water has always been crucial to combustion and hydroelectric processes, but it could become the source of power in membrane-based systems that capture energy from natural and waste waters. Two processes are emerging as sustainable methods for capturing energy from sea water: pressure-retarded osmosis and reverse electrodialysis. These processes can also capture energy from waste heat by generating artificial salinity gradients using synthetic solutions, such as thermolytic salts. A further source of energy comes from organic matter in waste waters, which can be harnessed using microbial fuel-cell technology, allowing both wastewater treatment and power production.

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