Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Wilfrido A. Moreno, Ph.D.

Keywords

Dialytic Battery, Fuel cell, Semi-permeable membrane, Renewable energy, Ocean energy

Abstract

It has long been known from Thermodynamics and written in technical literature that, in principal, instant energy can be made available when dilute and concentrated solutions are mixed. For example, a river flowing into the sea carries with it a physical-chemical potential energy in its low salt content, some of which should be recoverable. As also known, a naturally occurring, diffusion-driven, spontaneous transport of ions occurs throughout a solution matrix, thru barrier interfaces, or thru ion-selective membranes from the side containing the salts of higher concentration to the compartments containing the more dilute solution to effect the equalization of concentration of the ionic species. Since this ion movement consists, preferentially, of either cations or anions, it leads to a charge separation and potential difference across the membrane, otherwise known as a membrane potential. Eventually, when the concentrations in the compartment are the same, the cell ceases to function. However, if operated as a fuel cell with its respective concentrations continually replenished, equilibrium at a specific value of potential difference is established. To capture the energy of this potentially significant albeit low power energy source, a suitable energy extraction device is required. The focus of this Ph.D. research effort is to address the concept, research and evaluation of a Bi-Polar membrane based seawater concentration cell and its suitability as a low power energy source for Energy Harvesting/MEMS devices (patent pending).

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