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Power From Sea Water Just Got Busted!

Very few U.S. patents in osmotic power generation were granted in the last four decades . The most significant attempt in this field was a U.S. pa tent No 3,906,250 that was granted to Sidney Loeb in 1975 . This patent describes a method and apparatus for generating power by utilizing “Pressure Retarded Osmosis, PRO," a terminology that was adopted by Loeb in his work.

This work has both historical and conceptual value in studying salinity power. However, the author of the present article takes exception to certain areas where contradict ory or erroneous information were presented that might undermine the value of this work , particularly in large scale high salinity water applications. Osmosis is a source of low density energy. To harness this energy, realistic operating parameters based on actual field conditions must be clearly defined and analyzed.

The subject of this article is to evaluate seawater osmotic power potential, based on sound engineering practices and without bias or excitement. An attempt is made to analyze the few data points that w ere published by the recent Statkraft of Norway osmotic test and further postulate a scenario for generating osmotic power from the Mississippi River.

The basic theory that Statkraft of Norway has adopted in developing their osmotic power generation pilot plant that was commissioned on November 24, 2009 is based on Loeb’s work . Final assessment of th at pilot plant has not been revealed, but it is was stated that the system was capable of producing 2 KW of power at differential head of 120 meter s , employing 2000 square meters of spiral wound membrane ( 1 ). Despite scarcity of test information, this data is sufficient to debate the merit s of freshwater - seawater osmosis power generation scenario.

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