Researchers have suggested that artificial photosynthesis could be the key to powering vehicles, planes and ships in three decades' time.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow managed to generate an oil substitute using artificial leaf technology. Usually, plants produce organic material through photosynthesis, which involves them taking in energy from the sun.
Instead, the scientists intend to produce hydrocarbon fuel from the photosynthetic process using bacteria.
Previous efforts to do this have failed, but the Glasgow team discovered that rather than relying on light, electricity can be used to trigger the process.
According to the researchers, it offers improved efficiency and could become a major energy source within 30 years.
The research could seecar insurance customers pondering over whether the development would impact upon the cost of filling up.
Professor Richard Cogdell said he could see power stations containing industrial-sized containers of bacteria producing burnable fuel in vast quantities.
Solar panels would support the use of electricity, to stimulate further photosynthesis. He added the new technology may even help reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The prof was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.
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