Scientists are attempting to mimic the way plants harness energy from the sun in order to make a more efficient renewable fuel.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are embarking on an £800,000 project to replicate photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into sugars to help them grow.
The process will be used to create hydrogen, which can be used as a zero-emission fuel for cars, or converted into “green” electricity.
It is hoped the method, which involves placing tiny solar panels on microbes to harness sunlight and drive the production of hydrogen, will be a more efficient way of converting the sun’s energy than exists.
Lead researcher Professor Julea Butt, from UEA, said: “Many renewable energy supplies such as sunlight, wind and the waves remain largely untapped resources.”
She added: “We will build a system for artificial photosynthesis by placing tiny solar panels on microbes.
“These will harness sunlight and drive the production of hydrogen, from which the technologies to release energy on demand are well-advanced.”