Pressure retarded osmosis: From the vision of Sidney Loeb to the first prototype installation - Review

Andrea Achilli, Amy E. Childress

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

398 Scopus citations


The energy released from the mixing of freshwater with saltwater is a source of renewable energy that can be harvested using pressure retarded osmosis (PRO). In PRO, water from a low salinity solution permeates through a membrane into a pressurized, high salinity solution; power is obtained by depressurizing the permeate through a hydroturbine. Thecombination of increased interest in renewable and sustainable sources of power production and recent progress in membrane science has led to a spike in PRO interest in the last decade. This interest culminated in the first prototype installation of PRO which opened in Norway in late 2009. Although many investigators would suggest there is still lack of theoretical and experimental investigations to ensure the success of scaled-up PRO, the Norway installation has evoked several specialized and main-stream press news articles. Whether the installation and the press it has received will also boostcompetitivecommercialization of membranes and modules for PRO applications remains to be seen. This state-of-the-art review paper tells the unusual journey of PRO, from the pioneering days in the middle of the 20th century to the first experimental installation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Osmotic power
  • Osmotically driven membrane processes
  • Pressure retarded osmosis
  • Renewable energy
  • Salinity gradient power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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