Raising the Bar: Increased Hydraulic Pressure Allows Unprecedented High Power Densities in Pressure-Retarded Osmosis

Straub, Anthony P.; Yip, Ngai Yin; Elimelech, Menachem

Pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO) has the potential to generate sustainable energy from salinity gradients. PRO is typically considered for operation with river water and seawater, but a far greater energy of mixing can be harnessed from hypersaline solutions. This study investigates the power density that can be obtained in PRO from such concentrated solutions. Thin-film composite membranes with an embedded woven mesh were supported by tricot fabric feed spacers in a specially designed crossflow cell to maximize the operating pressure of the system, reaching a stable applied hydraulic pressure of 48 bar (700 psi) for more than 10 h. Operation at this increased hydraulic pressure allowed unprecedented power densities, up to 60 W/m2 with a 3 M (180 g/L) NaCl draw solution. Experimental power densities demonstrate reasonable agreement with power densities modeled using measured membrane properties, indicating high-pressure operation does not drastically alter membrane performance. Our findings exhibit the promise of the generation of power from high-pressure PRO with concentrated solutions.


Also Published In

Environmental Science and Technology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Engineering
American Chemical Society
Published Here
July 3, 2016


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