Creative Small Scale Electric Power Generation

Michael Giberson

Power from the people, story from the Christian Science Monitor:

For two architecture students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., the sound of footsteps is an echo of energy gone to waste. They figure that the stomp of every footfall gives off enough power to light two 60-watt bulbs for one second.

“Now imagine how many people walk through a train station each morning, or walk down the street in Hong Kong,” says James Graham, who, with fellow MIT graduate student Thaddeus Jusczyk, is helping to develop the growing field of “crowd farming.”

Train station? I’m thinking dance hall. If the music is no good, people stop dancing and the band loses electrical power. Like the music? Better keep dancing. (HT Peter Klein at Organization and Markets.)

From Norway comes a plan to generate electricity from the amazing power of osmosis.

Norwegian utility Statkraft said it would build the world’s first prototype osmotic power plant next year, tapping a promising new renewable and clean energy source….

In an osmotic power plant, sea water and fresh water are separated by a membrane. The sea water draws the fresh water through the membrane, thereby increasing the pressure on the sea water side. The increased pressure is used to produce power.

I don’t quite get it, but since they’re not spending my money on development, I don’t have to get it. According to the news article:

“The global technical potential for osmotic power production is estimated at around 1600 Terawatt hours, including around 200 TWh in Europe and 12 TWh in Norway, or 10 percent of Norway’s current power production,” Statkraft said on Wednesday.


5 thoughts on “Creative Small Scale Electric Power Generation

  1. Mike: desalinated water is produced by a process called reverse osmosis. This is an energy consuming process, and requires a lot pf power input when done on a large scale (like in the Gulf). The reverse reaction, (non-reverse) osmosis gives off energy, which these folks are looking to harness. For example, when a freshwater river meets the sea you have a lot of potential for osmotic energy release.

  2. Are you kidding me? You’re going to waste fresh water in order to make electricity? That doesn’t pass the smell test.

    I don’t doubt that it could work, I just think that it sounds foolish.

    On the other hand, if you’re a small Scandanavian country with a declining population, restrictivist immigration policy, and more fresh water than the current and future population needs, then maybe this makes sense.

  3. Wait, how are you wasting fresh water? If it’s flowing to the sea anyways… you could simply divert it right before it meets the sea water.

  4. Pls provide information about electrical power generation using saw mill waste wood, agriculture waste,biomass and other low cost fuels.
    I want to install power plant having capacity up to 10 killo watt using above mentioned materials as a fuel.
    thanking U
    yours truely
    Tushar Khamkar

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