Osmosis Power – Needs Work.

On a thread at WUWT about a new graphene osmosis filter possibility, someone was talking about how there was now working Osmosis power being produced in Norway and one other place. OK, I think, this is new to me.

Yes, in theory you ought to be able to recover some of the power some how…

Turns out the way they do it is to let the water back through another membrane into the salty side, and that raises the pressure, which can then be let out through a turbine. OK, it’s a pump. Got it.

So “How efficient and how much cost”? comes to mind. Can anyone with an ocean front property and a stream power their house with this?

Well, maybe if they built a second house…

Here’s a picture of a ‘typical’ 4 kW generator. Realize that making 4 kW on an industrial scale will take an even smaller part (of a bigger total object). So this is pretty much “the biggest it will take”. You can get these that run on natural gas, just like the big industrial turbines. Capstone Turbine has a 60 kW machine where the engine is about the size of an oatmeal round tub and the whole unit about the size of a large home refrigerator.

Honda 4 kW Generator

Honda 4 kW Generator

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/models/eg4000

Puts it at $1700 or so, and says it is:
26.8″ x 22.8″ x 22.5″ and 155 lbs.
(So about 68 cm x 58 cm x 57 cm and 70 kg)

You can get cheaper units, but I’m fond of the Honda. These folks, for example, have a 6 kW (max 5 kW useful) ‘other brand’ for $490 at the moment:

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=5+kW+generator

You can look at the Capstone product here:

http://www.capstoneturbine.com/prodsol/products/

if desired. Oh, and it looks like they have a wiki page with a drawing of the inside of a turbine too:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capstone_Turbine

Why mention all that? To give an idea what present real working solutions look like.
For comparison, here is an Osmosis Power Plant of 4 kW Capacity:

Hurum Osmosis Power Plant

Hurum Osmosis Power Plant

Original Image

From the wiki about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statkraft_osmotic_power_prototype_in_Hurum

The plant is a prototype developed together with Sintef and began test power production on 24 November 2009. Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway officially opened the plant. This plant had been planned since the summer of 2008, with a water usage of 10 litres of fresh water and 20 litres of salt water per second. It is expected to give a power output of between 2-4 kW. With better membranes it is assumed that the power for a similar plant can be increased to about 10 kW. A commercial plant is expected to be built between 2012 and 2015

Um… “needs work” comes to mind…

Yes, it’s a prototype. Yes, it will get better. Heck, they probably even have R&D offices in that building. But a Capstone generator is able to make 60 kW and is small enough to barely show up in a picture that size. They have a 200 kW unit that is much smaller than just the tank in front of the building. I’d guess less than 1/10 th the volume as a stand along co-generation unit with pipes and all. They are used to power buses and trucks as non-cogen configured motors.

So this thing is, IMHO, not quite ready for showtime. “Show and tell” maybe…

Subscribe to feed

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Energy, Tech Bits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Osmosis Power – Needs Work.

  1. DirkH says:

    Well, talking about energy density or the lack thereof vs cost, I always admired the Norwegian Osmosis plant as a step beyond wave power.

    The lower the energy density the higher the subsidies you can collect, and the less relevant is that it actually produces anything. In a lunatic kind of way, maybe the only invention that could top osmosis power is a rain collection tower that derives power from letting collected rainwater down a turbine. Or maybe a lunar energy PV panel; to be used only with moonbeams.

    Unfortunately the Eurozone is broke already so we won’t see these lunacies rolled out on a large scale…

  2. Steve Crook says:

    @DIRKH On the other hand at least it would run 24×7 regardless of the weather :-)

  3. philjourdan says:

    You pay $1700 for a 4kw generator? Ouch! We get them here (the 5.5kw) for about $750.

    But the osmosis plant is eco friendly and interesting. So how many of those 4kw plants taking up an acre each are needed to replace the coal fired plants currently in production? I guess there is enough land out west – just not enough raw materials on site.

  4. Ralph B says:

    Back in the day when I worked at Trojan (no not the condom company, the nuke plant) in the visitors center there was a nice energy equivalent display showing a fuel pellet compared to barrels of oil and tons of coal. Energy density…yes. I am a firm believer in fission, it works fine, we know how to do it, and can be built from existing plans. Look at a worst case scenario, Fukishima. I mean a massive quake, followed by a huge tsunami, and the plant was still standing. If they kept the steam powered ECC pumps core damage would have been minimal. As it was think about the double whammy and the plants were still standing. I would call that design robust and proven. Yet here we are second guessing them.

    Sure continue research on molten salt, thorium, etc…but why we don’t have another 120 standard Westinghouse or GE plants running in the US and Japan hasn’t got her others restarted baffles my mind. Obviously I am no politician.

  5. adolfogiurfa says:

    Sell that plant to Greece!. These IO plants are really candies for all those kids wanting “renewable energies” . E.M.-The day will come when the EPA will force you to replace that Honda Generator by a cleaner option; there will be only one alternative: To willfully confess you are a criminal.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @PhilJourdan:

    That was the Honda site listing list price. What is actually paid will be different. They put a high price on it so that all their customers, the retail sellers, look good to you… Some years back I bought a 5 kW generator for about $350 that I eventually sold to a friend when I got my Honda (it cost $700 or so)

    @Adolfo:

    The EPA is irrelevant. We have CARB California Air Resources Board. You may notice many generators say “CARB Compliant”. (At least if you have a California IP address ;-) There are already “special” rules here and CARB already knows that everyone is guilty… Being human and putting stuff in the air is enough to be a crime.

    @DirkH:

    Oh, good point… Wonder if I can get funding for a fog condensing engine… SF gets regular fogs, and one could condense the water, then run it ‘downhill’ about a foot through a nano-turbine… (ignore that whole surface tension problem… that will be grant #2…)

    @Ralph B:

    Fear and Stupidity. The same thing that causes folks to be afraid to fly since some infinitesimal percentage of folks who do get killed in a crash.

    I am getting an ever increasing appreciation for the power of fear and the power of stupid out of the Global Warming panic process.

  7. DirkH says:

    philjourdan says:
    20 March 2013 at 12:27 pm
    “You pay $1700 for a 4kw generator? Ouch! We get them here (the 5.5kw) for about $750.

    But the osmosis plant is eco friendly and interesting. So how many of those 4kw plants taking up an acre each are needed to replace the coal fired plants currently in production? I guess there is enough land out west – just not enough raw materials on site.”

    Total potential of osmosis power is limited by the amount of river water that is available to mix it with salt water. BTW, river mounds and deltas are ecologically sensitive areas. This would be the final Green technology to inflict maximum ecological damage for a minimum economic gain (or ecological gain if you count displacement of “dirty” power as an ecological gain)
    It would be more ecological to burn whale oil.

  8. DirkH says:

    Ralph B says:
    20 March 2013 at 12:46 pm
    ” Look at a worst case scenario, Fukishima. I mean a massive quake, followed by a huge tsunami, and the plant was still standing. If they kept the steam powered ECC pumps core damage would have been minimal. As it was think about the double whammy and the plants were still standing. I would call that design robust and proven. Yet here we are second guessing them. ”

    Exactly. It’s like a train heading towards another train and both trains manage to stop just in time; the optimal outcome for a safety engineer, nobody hurt.

    The German Greens Trittin and Roth have both posted offensive conflations of the Tsunami/Earthquake dead with Fukushima on the web for the 2nd anniversary of Fukushima, hoping to delude the panicky German population into thinking it’s radiation deaths; public media did nothing to clear things up.

    The Green movement is made up of lies.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    Considering the low power production, these people need vast sums to improve their technology. Even so they are further along then High Energy Fusion in producing practical power generation. After 50 years of watching Plasma Fusion I doubt I will live long enough to see success in that project. pg

  10. David says:

    Wow, power is out, I think I will just run out to my shed and roll over my 4kw generator, keep the lights, fridge and TV on. H.S. Batman, that generator is way bigger then my house, maybe I can move my house to the generator!

Comments are closed.