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Membranes for Osmotic Power

Membrane Applications

  1. S. T. Sim,
  2. Rong Wang,
  3. Miao Tian,
  4. Anthony G. Fane

Published Online: 27 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118522318.emst117

Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology

Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology

How to Cite

Sim, S. T., Wang, R., Tian, M. and Fane, A. G. 2013. Membranes for Osmotic Power. Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and Technology. 1–13.

Author Information

  1. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 SEP 2013


Pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO) and reverse electrodialysis (RED) are two emerging membrane techniques that can utilize seawater to recover osmotic power from salinity gradients. Although such technologies are indeed at an early stage of development, they have attracted intensive interest worldwide. There are already an osmotic power pilot plant utilizing PRO technique in Norway and a pilot salt battery plant utilizing RED technique in the Netherlands. To appreciate how such demonstration plants would eventually result in sufficient cost reductions to enable broadscale deployment, it requires understanding of the working principles and the potential challenges facing the techniques. The aims of this article are to introduce fundamental aspects of the PRO and RED techniques, discuss the feasibility and challenges for achieving optimal power density, and provide an overview on the state of the art of the techniques in terms of PRO membrane development, and reducing the internal resistance and enhancing stack design in RED. The likely developments moving ahead in making the technology more mature for broadscale employment are also highlighted.


  • pressure-retarded osmosis;
  • reverse electrodialysis;
  • membranes;
  • osmotic power;
  • renewable energy