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Norway's Statkraft kick-starts world's first osmotic power plant

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
November 25, 2009
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It may only produce enough power to heat an electric kettle at the moment, but Norway's Statkraft says that its new, first-of-its-kind osmotic power plant could be producing as much energy as a small wind farm by 2015, and continue to grow from there on out. To do that, the company guides fresh water and salt water into separate chambers that are divided by an artificial membrane, and when the process of osmosis takes place -- salt molecules pulling freshwater through the membrane -- the pressure is increased on the sea water side. That, of course, doesn't get you power on its own, but the pressure is apparently enough to drive a power generating turbine, and if you have enough of those you have a power plant. A bit of effort, to be sure, but the process doesn't emit any greenhouse gases, is completely renewable, and it doesn't depend on the wind or the sun being out.

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