January 14 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2018 Rating: 8 Hot
We should be paying closer attention to California-based QuantumSphere and its approach to the future of energy.
QuantumSphere understands the disruptive potential in performance of materials when you design catalysts at the nanoscale.
The company is designing systems that change how we look at energy storage (e.g. batteries/fuel cells) and energy intensive processes like desalination.
Next Step - Water Desalination
QuantumSphere has made headlines for its nano-structured catalysts used in lithium ion batteries, and also for its low cost hydrogen electrolysis process.
Now QuantumSphere has announced a filed patent for a more energy efficient method of desalination that uses organic solutions to separate water from salt water or polluted water. The 'forward osmosis' process is less energy intensive than current commercial methods.
A Method that is 70% cheaper ?
"Today, most high-volume thermal desalination is conducted at complex plants in the Middle East, where an inexpensive oil supply makes it more practical than most other parts of the world," said Subra Iyer, principal technologist for QuantumSphere. "The reverse osmosis process also requires tremendous amounts of energy for desalination. The forward osmosis process we've developed can purify water at less than 3,000 kWh per acre foot, which is approximately 70% cheaper than the energy cost of traditional reverse osmosis processes. QuantumSphere has developed a prototype that is scalable and can eventually be used to supply fresh drinking water to large populations located near virtually any water source. The company is seeking development partners to further refine and scale the process to make it a commercially viable large-scale process for seawater desalination."
Forward osmosis using QuantumSphere's proprietary process can also purify brackish and polluted water. The process uses a semi-permeable membrane to separate water from salt water into a special organic solution across the membrane. The diluted organic solution is then warmed to cause the specially formulated organic solute to drop out, leaving only fresh drinking water after a final purification step through activated charcoal.