Inspired by solar tech, researcher develops hydrogen-powered nano-battery

solar tech

Eco Factor: Nano-battery produces electricity with water as byproduct.

Eduard Karpov, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has received a three-year $217,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new battery he calls the “catalothermionic generator”. The battery will generate power on a flat surface, just like in a photovoltaic or solar cell, but here instead of sunlight, 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.

Karpov envisions initial applications for these tiny generators in critical military devices where their small size and low weight will outweigh the high startup costs. As the technology develops, the generator might be attached directly to computer chips as a power source, or to tiny devices such as a nano-robot.

Via: UIC [Press Release]