Direct processing of saltwater for renewable energy storage

Technological advances have created an abundance of renewable energy sources (wind and solar), however, storing energy at scale is an essential part of transitioning to renewables and remains a critical challenge. The Nocera lab has developed a method that combines water purification and water splitting to create stored energy.

To utilize water splitting for energy storage at a relevant scale, massive amounts of water input are needed. Given that the vast majority of water on earth is seawater, a process that can use saltwater as a direct input without the need for pre-treatment is highly desirable. The Nocera lab approach uses passive forward osmosis combined with electrochemical water splitting to allow for direct processing of impure water sources (i.e., saltwater).

This Forward Osmosis–Water Splitting (FOWS) method has the potential to meet the challenges of renewable energy storage at scale and makes use of an abundantly available natural resource.

This work has been published in PNAS and highlighted in the Harvard Gazette.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending