Canadian Manufacturing

Hydro-Québec studies osmosis as energy resource

Hydro-Québec teams up with Norwegian firm Statkraft to test the latest in renewable energy technology


MONTRÉAL and OSLO—Statkraft and Hydro-Québec have entered into a three-year agreement to speed up the development of osmotic power, a new renewable energy technology.

Osmotic power uses the natural phenomenon of osmosis—the transport of water through a semi-permeable membrane.

When fresh water meets salt water, such as where a river runs into the sea, enormous energy is released. Statkraft is harnessing this energy for the generation of power through osmosis.

In an osmotic power plant, fresh water and salt water are shot into separate chambers divided by an artificial membrane. The salt in the sea water pulls the freshwater through the membrane, increasing the pressure on the sea water side. The pressure equals a 120 metre water waterfall with plenty of force to power a generating turbine.

Hydro-Québec will study the process of pre-treatment of freshwater in an osmotic power plant to identify and validate the most cost-efficient pre-treatment technologies.

It will examine membrane life expectancy, maintenance costs and impact on the environment.

The development of more efficient pre-treatment processes will contribute to making the technology competitive with other new renewable energy sources.

Statkraft will provide research and development results from the prototype facility that has been in operation since the fall of 2009, as well as testing pre-treatment as an integrated part of a complete osmotic power plant.

Hydro-Québec is a public utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity. It invests more than $100 million in research per year.

Statkraft in Oslo, Norway is a renewable energy generation company and developer of osmotic power technology with more than 3,400 employees in 20 countries.

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