Membrane-based processes for sustainable power generation using water

Nature. 2012 Aug 16;488(7411):313-9. doi: 10.1038/nature11477.


Water has always been crucial to combustion and hydroelectric processes, but it could become the source of power in membrane-based systems that capture energy from natural and waste waters. Two processes are emerging as sustainable methods for capturing energy from sea water: pressure-retarded osmosis and reverse electrodialysis. These processes can also capture energy from waste heat by generating artificial salinity gradients using synthetic solutions, such as thermolytic salts. A further source of energy comes from organic matter in waste waters, which can be harnessed using microbial fuel-cell technology, allowing both wastewater treatment and power production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels
  • Biomass
  • Dialysis / methods*
  • Electricity
  • Hot Temperature
  • Renewable Energy* / economics
  • Salinity
  • Water*


  • Biofuels
  • Water