Nature has proven to be much more efficient at converting chemicals into energy than our most advanced technologies. See my earlier post on Termite guts. Do not confuse the Termite guy, named Chu, with another scientist, named Hu. Hu is doing what Chu is just proposing. Hu seems to be on track to improve our energy consumption methods, and in his spare time through some novel experiments. All that is required is "... nanometer-sized particles of platinum stuck to fibers of glass wool in a small jar with methanol and air – with no source of external ignition." By varying the fuel mixture, he can achieve tempatures of "...600 degrees Celsius and low temperatures of just a few tenths of a degree above room temperature." The low temperatures closely approximate the metabolism of a living organism.
PhysOrg: Spontaneous ignition discovery has ORNL researcher fired up
Steven Chu is the Nobel laureate 'Termite guy', and Director of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs.
Zhiyu Hu is another physicist at the Life Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's ORNL who managed to do his research without funding.