The world”s first osmotic power plant is scheduled to begin operations just outside Oslo, in Tofte, Norway, at the end of this month, according to a report by Industrial Info Resources (www.industrialinfo.com). While the plant is just a prototype with limited production capabilities, Industrial Info says a commercially viable unit could be operational by 2015.

The basic principle of an osmotic power plant is founded on the transport of water through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane separates fresh water and seawater, as the salt molecules in seawater draw fresh water through the membrane, producing pressure on the seawater side of the membrane. The pressure generated by the movement of fresh water through the membrane is enough to produce significant energy. This energy, in theory, could be used to facilitate an osmotic power plant, which, according to Industrial Info, would be entirely free of emissions, noise and pollution.

The prototype osmotic power plant is a project of Norwegian state-owned electricity company Statkraft AS (www.statkraft.com), which is particularly active in the renewable energy sector and has been researching the potential of osmotic power for more than 10 years. Statkraft developed the prototype plant with the help of backing from Enova SF (www.enova.no), a public enterprise owned by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

To read the full Industrial Info Resources report on this story, click here (registration required).