We live in a world that always works to improve and progress, trying to live up to the new standards imposed in industries. The water purification industry has always been very strict about water contaminant levels, and it has met the standards, but the processes used had seemed to reach their maximum energy efficiency. That is where innovation has to step in.
At Yale University, a doctoral student, Robert McGinnis, and his advisor, Menachem Elimelech, developed a new water purification method that not only simplifies purification processes, but it can also be used to generate electricity. This new method is based off osmosis, and it serves as an affordable means for water purification while suppling a sustainable energy source.
The idea can serve to take non-potable water, even salt water, and make it freshwater. The great part about using osmosis is that it takes one-tenth of the energy used for present purification processes and the low temperature heat sources can be used to generate electricity.
The process uses natural diffusion through a semi-permeable membrane which “draws” the contaminants to salts. These contaminants can then be removed with low heat. This diffusion process is also being studied by the Yale research group to develop a heat engine. The diffusion process will increase hydraulic pressure, and it will then expand through a turbine to produce electricity.
With this new development, water purification (one of the most vital industries in the world) will become much more cost and energy effective, and this may serve as a viable energy source to aid in answering the energy crisis.
This is the link to the article, which was taken from Energy Science and Technology Magazine http://opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=6309