Osmotic Energy is a method for producing energy from the mix of fresh water and seawater. Estimates suggest osmotic power alone has a global potential of 1600 to 1700 TWh – the same as China’s total electricity consumption in 2002.
The process works whereby fresh water and salt water are separated, divided by an artificial membrane. Salt molecules in the seawater pull freshwater through the membrane. This increases pressure on the seawater side, which can be used in a power generating turbine.
Under the agreement, IDE will design and later purchase and construct the pilot plant, which will be based on existing technology used in desalination and other industries.
Membranes for the facility are likely to be sourced from supplier Nitto Denko/Hydranautics, after Statkraft signed an agreement back in June 2011.
As part of this new agreement, IDE will design the energy recovery system and the fresh water and seawater pre-treatment.
On the Sunndalsøra development, Statkraft said freshwater for the pilot facility can be collected from the outlet tunnel from the Aura power plant, while seawater can be pumped from a depth of 40 metres further out in the fjord.
Statkraft opened its osmotic power prototype facility in Tofte, Norway, which has been operating since 2009. The facility is also used for testing components, processes and membranes.
Dr. Boris Liberman, VP & CTO Membrane Technology of IDE, said the company has been researching Osmotic Energy production for some time now. He believes this process can result in driving costs down while increasing net energy output.