Creating Energy Through Water Osmosis

March 10th, 2013

Using boron nitride nanotubes, researchers have discovered a new method for harnessing energy from the salinity difference between fresh water and salt water.

The salinity difference between fresh water and salt water could be a source of renewable energy. However, power yields from existing techniques are not high enough to make them viable. A solution to this problem may now have been found. A team led by physicists at the Institut Lumière Matière in Lyon (CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), in collaboration with the Institut Néel (CNRS), has discovered a new means of harnessing this energy: osmotic flow through boron nitride nanotubes generates huge electric currents, with 1,000 times the efficiency of any previous system. To achieve this result, the researchers developed a highly novel experimental device that enabled them, for the first time, to study osmotic fluid transport through a single nanotube. Their findings are published in the 28 February issue of Nature.

When a reservoir of salt water is brought into contact with a reservoir of fresh water through a special kind of semipermeable membrane, the resulting osmotic phenomena make it possible to produce electricity from the salinity gradients. This can be done in two different ways: either the osmotic pressure differential between the two reservoirs can drive a turbine, or a membrane that only passes ions can be used to produce an electric current.

Concentrated at the mouths of rivers, the Earth’s osmotic energy potential has a theoretical capacity of at least 1 terawatt — the equivalent of 1,000 nuclear reactors. However, the technologies available for harnessing this energy are relatively inefficient, producing only about 3 watts per square meter of membrane. Today, a team of physicists at the Institut Lumière Matière in Lyon (CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), in collaboration with the Institut Néel (CNRS), may have found a solution to overcome this obstacle. Their primary goal was to study the dynamics of fluids confined in nanometric spaces, such as nanotubes.

Drawing inspiration from biology and cell channel research, they achieved a world first in measuring the osmotic flow through a single nanotube. Their experimental device consisted of an impermeable and electrically insulating membrane pierced by a single hole through which the researchers, using the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, inserted a boron nitride nanotube with an external diameter of a few dozen nanometers. Two electrodes immersed in the fluid on either side of the nanotube enabled them to measure the electric current passing through the membrane.

Using this membrane to separate a salt water reservoir and a fresh water reservoir, the team was able to generate a massive electric current through the nanotube, induced by the strong negative surface charge characteristic of boron nitride nanotubes, which attracts the cations contained in the salt water. The intensity of the current passing through the nanotube was on the order of the nanoampere, more than 1,000 times the yield of the other known techniques for retrieving osmotic energy.

Boron nitride nanotubes thus provide an extremely efficient solution for converting the energy of salinity gradients into immediately usable electrical power. Extrapolating these results to a larger scale, a 1-m2 boron nitride nanotube membrane should have a capacity of about 4 kW and be capable of generating up to 30 megawatt-hours per year. This performance is three orders of magnitude greater than that of the prototype osmotic power plants currently in operation. The next step for the researchers in the project will be to study the production of membranes made of boron nitride nanotubes and test the performances of nanotubes made from other materials.

This project was made possible largely through the support of the ERC and ANR.

Publication: Alessandro Siria, et al., “Giant osmotic energy conversion measured in a single transmembrane boron nitride nanotube,” Nature 494, 455–458 (28 February 2013); doi:10.1038/nature11876

Source: Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)


Energy Storage Super Capacitors

March 10th, 2013

UCLA and Egyptian scientist accidentally find a new way to bottle stored energy. This missing link for solar energy, hydro and electric cars could be a fast, tiny, biodegradable battery.

Penicillin, Teflon, microwave ovens and superglue were all discovered by accident. And now graphene super-capacitors might be the most important accidental discovery of our time – one that can change the way energy is stored. A team of UCLA researchers led by chemist Richard Kaner used a commercial DVD burner to produce sheets of a carbon-based material known as graphene.

The “accident” occured when Cairo University graduate Maher El-Kady (pictured below) wired a small piece of graphene to an LED and found that it behaved as a super-capacitor, able to store a considerable amount of electricity. Their laser-scribed graphene is ideal as a super capacitor partially because of its enormous surface area, 1520 square meters per gram. Here’s how it works:


The story begins with quirky old kite-flying American, a key and a bolt of lightning. It ends with a jar full of electricity. Benjamin Franklin’s jar of electricity is known as a Leyden jar.

It is a primitive electronic circuit element known as a capacitor. The Leyden jar illustrates some promising characteristics of capacitors. As electrical storage devices, they are extraordinarily simple. You can make one at home with a glass jar and a some aluminum foil.

Capacitors have some advantages over Lithium, Nickle-Metal hydride and other chemical batteries. Batteries convert electrical energy to and from chemical energy. But capacitors store electrical charge by bottling excess electrons on one side of a thin barrier.

So capacitors needn’t contain caustic mixtures of acids, alkalis and toxic metals as batteries do. Capacitors can also be charged many times and they can be charged very fast. Some of the tantalum and electrolytic capacitors inside your computer or iPad are charging and discharging millions of times while you read this.

If capacitors are so wonderful, why aren’t they used in place of batteries electric cars to laptops and mobile phones?

The problem is that capacitors aren’t able to store very much energy. A Lithium Ion battery the size of a Leyden jar can store more than 500,000 times more energy.

But capacitors have improved since the Leyden jar. The graphene capacitor these UCLA scientists created has 4 billion times the capacitence of a Leyden jar.

Since its operating voltage is much lower, it might only store about 40,000 times the energy density of a Leyden jar, but this brings it much closer to the energy density of a chemical battery.

And that could change everything.


The Super, Supercapacitor

Ric Kaner set out to find a new way to make graphene, the thinnest and strongest material on earth. What he found was a new way to power the world.

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Keshe Free Energy Science, Iran’s Space Ship Program, Peace Treaty

February 25th, 2013

Keshe’s FREE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY Makes Military Industrial Complex Obsolete

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Groundbreaking free energy science and advanced space ship technology brought forward by Iranian nuclear physicist, M.T. Keshe, head of the Keshe Foundation in Belgium. Keshe’s recent lecture on Jan. 30, 2013 at Imperial College in London, revealed some incredible information about Iran’s space ship program, and also about a Peace Treaty which is currently in the hands of the world’s super powers, as we wait to see if the the world’s ‘super-powers’ will continue to cover-up these new breakthroughs that allowed Iran to apprehend two US drones, applications in faster than light travel, nuclear gravity-magnetic field plasma science and advanced medical treatment for the terminally ill.