Active control of salinity-based power generation in nanopores using thermal and pH effects

Van Phung Mai, Ruey Jen Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Harvesting blue energy from saline solutions has attracted much attention recently. Salinity-based power generation in nanopores is governed by both passive factors (e.g., the nanopore diameter, nanopore length, nanopore material, and pore density) and active factors (e.g., the concentration gradient, temperature, and pH environment). The present study performs COMSOL multiphysics numerical simulations based on the Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations, Navier-Stokes equations and heat transfer equation to examine the combined effects of the temperature gradient and pH level on the diffusion voltage and maximum power generation in single silica nanopores with lengths of 100 nm and 500 nm, respectively. In performing the simulations, the pH value is adjusted in the range of pH 5-11, the salinity concentration gradient is 100-fold and 1000-fold, respectively. Three different thermal conditions are considered, namely (1) isothermal-room temperature (298 K); (2) asymmetric thermal (temperature of low-concentration reservoir and high-concentration reservoir are 323 K and 298 K, respectively); and (3) isothermal-high temperature (323 K). The results show that the generated power varies significantly with both the pH level and the temperature conditions. In particular, the asymmetric thermal condition yields an effective improvement in the power generation performance since it reduces the surface charge density on the surface of the nanopore near the low-concentration end and therefore suppresses the ion concentration polarization (ICP) effect. The improvement in the energy harvesting performance is particularly apparent at pH levels in the range of 9-10 (about 100% higher than that of pH 7). Overall, the results confirm the feasibility of using active factors to enhance the power generation performance of salinity gradient-based nanopore systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18624-18631
Number of pages8
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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