One of the great challenges that humanity will face in the years to come is the rapid consumption of non-renewable energy and slow development of other renewable energy sources, although that is gradually changing over the course of this century. It is on this enigma that much of the future of the human race will depend.
There are many proposals to solve this problem, some more viable than others, but this time we will talk about the “Blue energy“, nail technique of electricity production which is not new, in fact dates back to the averages of the 1970s, however, Due to its cost and technological requirements, it could not be overdeveloped at that time.. It is estimated that this energy can supply up to 40% of the world’s energy demand.
What is blue energy?
This blue energy comes from the sea and rivers, which in turn are already a source of clean energy thanks to hydroelectric and tidal power stations. In this case, the osmotic (known as blue energy), uses the amount of energy that is released when fresh water comes in contact with seawater.
The difference in salinity between these two types of water creates a source of renewable energy.
This process consists of the permeation of low salinity water to high salinity water under high pressure. The greater the salt difference between the two solutions, the higher the pressure can be, generating even more energy.
One of the most important elements of this energy production technique is a special semi-permeable membrane, which is responsible for the separation of the two solutions which allows the chamber containing the fresh water to flow into the chamber. with salt water, which increases the pressure. which can be used to drive a turbine that produces electricity.
This element was the main obstacle. This membrane had a very high cost, but in recent years a new membrane made from electrically modified plastic has appeared which has reduced its production costs by giving blue energy a new opportunity.
The only residue is salt water.
How is blue energy generated by mixing fresh and salt water?
When a semi-permeable membrane is placed (it allows the passage of water but retains the salt ions), between 2 tanks containing fresh water and salt water, a net flow of water is observed towards the salt water side. If the saltwater tank has a fixed volume, the pressure would increase to a theoretical maximum of 26 bar. This pressure is equivalent to a water column about 270 m high. This pressurized water is what is used to generate renewable energy.
Pilot tests of blue energy.
Since 1993, the Norwegian company Statkraft has been studying the possibilities of blue energy to generate clean energy. The Norwegian company opened a pilot plant in 2009 at the facilities of Södra Cell Tofte, a paper manufacturer in the city of Hurum, on a fjord 60 kilometers from Oslo. The plan is to make it operational at the beginning of next year.
In 2014, the Netherlands was recorded in history as the first country to host a commercial plant of Energía Azul for the production of blue energy, even if this would serve more as a pilot of what the future of renewable energies could be. The main objective is to know the real capacity of this method to obtain energy on a small scale.
The specialists in charge of this plant believe that By 2020, this type of technology could be commercialized enough to be a viable energy source. One of the great advantages of this type of power generation is that it operates 24 hours a day, unlike solar and wind power, which requires favorable wind conditions.
The Dutch consider that in the near future up to 50% of the energy the country needs could be supplied by this technology, without affecting a minimum flow of rivers that allows the life of fish and the use of transport. maritime.
This test will generate around 50 megawatts in its initial phase, or the equivalent of a hundred homes.
Thus, the countries which currently use blue energy, betting on its development, are Norway and the Netherlands.
It’s a big bet, but the experts are positive about Blue Energy’s development for years to come. Perhaps this is the salvation of our growing need for new sources of clean, renewable energy.
Who discovered blue energy?
This property was discovered in the 18th century, using the skin of a pig’s bladder as the first option. Since then until today, many types of semipermeable membranes made of different materials have been tested, but all of them were characterized by high cost, which made it impossible to harness this renewable energy source.
Currently, due to the great advance in materials science, electrically modified plastic has been obtained from polyethylene, which due to its low cost has given new impetus to the research and use of this type of ‘energy.