When fresh and salt water meet, there is an exchange of salt and other particles. A membrane placed in water can harness the energy of the particles as they move .
Researchers at the University of Leiden have developed a new membrane that can produce a hundred times more energy than classical membranes, as published in a Nature Nanotechnology study .
Either thin or porous
Today’s membranes are either porous or thin, but not both. However, the amount of energy generated depends on the thickness of the membrane and its porosity. This new carbon-based membrane that is both porous and thin .
This new discovery opens up new possibilities for power generation, desalination and the construction of much more efficient fuel cells.
To create this new membrane, Xue Liu and Grégory Schneider , the lead researchers at the University of Leiden, spread a large number of oily molecules onto a water surface.
The new carbon membrane is similar to graphene, a large flat membrane made up of only carbon atoms. According to Xue Liu :
The membrane we created is only two nanometers thick and is permeable to potassium ions. We can change the properties of the membrane by using a different molecular building block. In this way we can adapt it to any need.