Eduard Karpov, University of Illinois at Chicago assistant professor of civil and materials engineering, has received a three-year, $217,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new battery he is calling a catalothermionic generator. It will generate power on a flat planar surface, just like in a photovoltaic or solar cell, only instead of sunlight being the energy source, hydrogen oxidation will power the electron flow.
Unlike conventional hydrogen fuel cell technology that has been around for more than a century, this new approach, called "chemovoltaics," harnesses energy from hydrogen oxidation taking place on a film-like catalytic metal surface. Unlike fuel cells, the chemovoltaic device can be very small and flat and does not release or absorb heat, allowing it to run at much cooler temperatures. But like fuel cells, its energy-production byproduct is only water.