River mouths around the world may soon provide an abundant new source of clean energy after scientists developed an efficient system to generate electricity from salt water.

Research published this week in the journal Nature outlines how significant amounts of power can be generated from a natural phenomenon that occurs when fresh water comes into contact with seawater through a membrane.

The process of osmosis that occurs can be harnessed to capture the electrical charge of the salt ions that travel through the membrane to balance the concentrations in each liquid.

“We had to first fabricate and then investigate the optimal size of the nanopore,” said Jiandong Feng, a researcher at EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology and lead author of the research.

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