Electrochimica Acta, Vol.319, 366-374, 2019
High-efficiency power generation in hyper-saline environment using conventional nanoporous membrane
Here we introduce the new approach to high-efficiency power generation from a salinity difference using conventional nanoporous Nafion membrane. When access areas on each side of nanoporous Nafion membrane are set to be asymmetric, the ratio of ionic current upon a voltage bias of the different polarity also becomes asymmetric, resulting in ionic diode phenomena. When this geometrical ionic diode effect is combined with a salinity gradient, it can help significantly improve the energy conversion efficiency from a salinity difference even under a hyper-saline environment with a large salinity difference, e.g. similar to 41% conversion efficiency and similar to 120 nW power generation with 1M KCl and 1000-fold salinity difference, both of which are comparable with the best performances reported in the previous studies. We propose that the decrease in ion concentration polarization at a low salt concentration side is responsible for the enhanced power generation with the membrane having asymmetric access areas. Our approach is simple to implement and can be applicable to any nanoporous membrane to enhance the power generation from a salinity difference. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.