Our OSMAREA project is based on the construction of an innovative power plant prototype thanks to the coupling of two energy sources: tidal energy and osmotic energy.
We studied the use of these two energy sources, to induce greater production of electricity to answer better the demand of energy which is constantly evolving.
Indeed, global energy demand keeps on increasing with the growth of the world population. In addition to that, we are running out of fossil fuels and it seemed essential to us to develop a project based on renewable energy. The main goal of our project is to increase the production of energy for tidal facilities. Indeed, by substituting the pumps of a tidal power plant and also increasing the level of water retained in the mill pond through osmosis, we could have more water to churn when draining the water retained in the basin of the plant and therefore the production of electricity increases.
As part of our study, we first wanted to apply our idea to a prototype. In order to do this, we used an aquarium that we separated into different pools and to which we added a turbine and a semi-permeable membrane purchased commercially, theoretically allowing only molecules of fresh water to go through. We wanted to visualize the osmosis phenomenon to quantify the volume of water passing through the membrane to calculate the electrical production of our prototype. In parallel we conducted a theoretical study on Mapple to simulate an optimal performance of our prototype and then estimate the possible yield of a tidal power plant like the Rance tidal power. The impact of an osmotic plant on an installation of this size is not significant on the overall performance.
The tests that we performed on the prototype with the membrane as a single wall separating fresh water and salt water were unsuccessful because of our low quality membrane. Based on the Statkraft operating practices, we could check the feasibility of the project. We used the production curves of the La Rance tidal power plant. We noticed that pumping allows to obtain one meter of additional water in the La Rance basin, corresponding to a volume of 22 million m3. In our mathematical modelling, the volume of the pool is an output data and the number of osmotic modules is an input data. We determined how many modules are required to achieve this increase in volume of water in the La Rance basin. It is necessary to use 20 million modules whether 600 million m² of membrane, which is unthinkable for a facility such as the La Rance power plant.
The purpose of our work is the search for new energy production track. In this context, our research mainly axis on the technical feasibility and performance study justify further investment for further study. Our project is therefore referred to be revised and improved. The theoretical study we conducted, and the attempt to design a reliable prototype led us to consider, not to merge a tidal power plant with the osmotic principle, but rather to combine these two plants, tidal and osmotic because it is energetically and financially attractive they are related.
By the different tracks and studies, our project is now complete enough to be of interest to EDF and Statkraft companies that we targeted as possible partners earlier this year. The NaNo @ ECE lab can therefore now consider future research or PPE subject mainly focused on the study of an osmotic membrane adapted.