The Great Salt Lake: An Unexpected Energy Source

Did you know the Great Salt Lake could become a huge source for clean energy? A team of student researchers at the U are working to make this a reality, with help from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Ph.D. students Thomas Tran, Carlo Bianchi and undergraduate Joseph Melville of the Mechanical Engineering Department are working on this research. Under the guidance of professors Amanda Smith and Kay Park, they plan to use the “pressure retarded osmosis process.” This process generates energy from the fluid flow due to the difference in the salt concentration when fresh water meets salt water. “A breakthrough with this new way to generate energy could be so helpful to my home country (Vietnam),” Tran said. The student researchers are currently focusing on proving earlier research results to make way for an industrial setup that can make this new source of hydroelectric power a reality.

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