The latest addition to the growing renewable energy family comes from researchers from the Netherlands. They developed a system, which produces electricity using the difference in salt content between sea and fresh water.
This new technology will go into first testing next week, as the first test facility, called Blue Energy, will open its doors. The principle behind it is not entirely new as such, in the past Norwegen companies have tried to use differences in water salinity, but on a much lower scale. However, it is right up the street of the company behind the new plant- the Dutch REDstack BV, who specializes in development and commercialization of reverse electro-dialysis technologies. The scientific input is strengthened by a team from University of Twente, while the finance is secured by both governmental and private funds.
Initially, the new facility, which will be located on the long dike Afsluitdijk, is not expected to generate industrial amounts of electricity. In this plant, the guys from REDstack expects to produce the modest 50MW, which should be sufficient to power around 100 average Dutch homes. However, the ultimate goal is to study and improve it to an extend to which it could become commercially viable by 2020.
Now, a few more details about the technology. Basically, it works by creating a type of natural battery, using two filters to separate salt water from fresh water. One of the filters allows only the positive sodium ions to pass, while the other one allows only the negative chlorine ions. Through this process, a single filter produces around 1 watt of power. These filters, however, can be stacked so that the amount is higher. So far, the team behind it have managed to put together 100 filters at a time.
The Netherlands is undoubtedly the best location for this technology. With their abundant rivers flowing in the coast on the North Sea, the country can facilitate the project perfectly. I do believe that this will not be the last time we heard of it.
Image (c) REDstack BV