The clean-energy geeks (definitely a term of endearment) at Stanford University have come up with a way to turn every river in the world into a power plant--no big ugly hydropower dams required.
Put simply, Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, and his research team want to put a newly developed rechargeable battery at the mouths of rivers; the batteries would take advantage of the difference in salinity between salt water and freshwater to produce electricity and charge themselves.
That's the simple explanation. For the explanation that includes a discussion of the relationship between voltage and the concentration of sodium and chlorine ions, check out the news from Stanford. That said, the basic concept behind the battery itself isn't too complex and is similar to other batteries--basically two electrodes immersed in water--but the Stanford team took advantage of nanotechnology, which is cool because...here, let's just let them explain it:… Read more