From solar panels to wind farms, green and renewable energy is ever-growing as we find a solution to traditional and harmful methods like coal and oil. But, are we about to take hydro-power to the next level?
This new discovery, called blue energy, is a potential way to harvest energy from the place where saltwater and fresh water meet.
As co-author of the research study Krisitan Dubrawski says, “blue energy is an immense and untapped source of renewable energy.” This new form of hydro-power would actually be used to power a battery. It would be the first blue energy battery that would not use the typical pressure or membranes for functionality, and would instead rely solely on electrochemistry.
So how does all of this work? Well, electrodes in the battery release sodium and chloride ions into a special solution, and then these flow from one electrode to the other, which in turn flushes saltwater throughout the system and in effect reverses the flow of the current.
Despite only still being in the testing phases, the prototype model was extremely successful, proving to capture energy from saltwater over 180 cycles.
By implementing this blue energy battery, freshwater and saltwater in coastal wastewater treatment plants could generate enough energy to power more than 1,700 homes per year. This would in effect reduce the need for these plants to require batteries and also reduce the electrical usage and emissions rates of these facilities.
While the current model is not adapted to be run on a global scale, hence rivers running into oceans, it’s local advantages are a good starting point that have the potential to spur huge advances in the near future.