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Renewable energy : Nanotubes to channel osmotic power

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 (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.


Giant osmotic energy conversion measured in a single transmembrane boron-nitride nanotube, Alessandro Siria, Philippe Poncharal, Anne-Laure Biance, Rémy Fulcrand, Xavier Blase, Stephen Purcell, and Lydéric Bocquet, Nature. 28 février 2013.
Published on February 28, 2013 Updated on July 31, 2014