The present energy generation is largely dependent on fossil fuels which results in the emission of greenhouse gases and is also characterized by vulnerability and eminent scarcity. In order to meet the respective concerns, the energy supply should be based on (i) an environmental-friendly non-combustion energy conversion, (ii) a freely available alternative energy source, and (iii) a renewable energy source. In this chapter, the authors want to explore an alternative and the hardly known renewable energy source, i.e. salinity gradient energy. It is the most promising renewable energy source and also termed as ‘blue energy’. Estimates from literature predicted coverage of over 80% of the current global electricity demand when applied in all river mouths. From thermodynamic calculations, it can be derived that each m3 of river water can yield 1.4 MJ when mixed with the same amount of seawater. Two membrane-based processes are available to convert blue energy into electricity: Pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) and Reverse electrodialysis (RED). Blue energy along with its technical and economic potential would be the major focus of this chapter.
Part of the book: Advances in Membrane Technologies