Hydrogen by Osmotic Disparity

Period of Performance: 06/12/2017 - 04/11/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Optics Corp.
1845 West 205th Street Array
Torrance, CA 90501
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Research and development of innovative marine and hydrokinetic systems is sought to produce nonelectric products such as hydrogen and fresh water. The goal is to mitigate challenges in transportation and storage of harvested energy, especially from distributed small-scale energy harvesters. General statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed. A novel hydrogen by osmotic disparity system is proposed, based on reverse electrodialysis to convert a salinity gradient to electrical power, which is directly applied to the production of hydrogen by reverse electrodialysis — with proton exchange membrane electrolysis — of brine produced by desalination.The feasibility of the proposed system will be established by the design, evaluation, and demonstration of a laboratory-scale prototype. Then a detailed system design and economic analysis will be developed. The development, fabrication, and evaluation of the proposed system prototype in Phase II with following commercialization allow for multiple national and commercial benefits. First of all, the improved reverse electrodialysis unit may be used alone as well as in complete hydrogen-producing systems to add distributed power sources in multiple locations, as at a river’s estuaries, as well as near desalination plants, which produce a significant amount of concentrated brine. Besides the obvious economic benefit (additional renewable source of power), the production of concentrated energy (hydrogen) allows for the improvement of power delivery to remote, off-grid locations to feed electrical generators (fuel cells) including those installed in vehicles. Moreover, the distribution of hydrogen-charged storage containers in urban areas allows for wider use of hydrogen-powered or electric cars, which provides an environmental benefit. Because this power is obtained from a renewable source, the cost of hydrogen will be significantly lower than that from current technologies, which opens a great commercial potential not only for fabrication and installation of these systems but also for the supply of hydrogen-charged storage containers.