(Reuters) British scientists seeking to tap more efficient forms of solar power are exploring how to mimic the way plants transform sunlight into energy and produce hydrogen to fuel vehicles.
They will join other researchers around the world studying artificial photosynthesis as governments seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
“We will build a system for artificial photosynthesis by placing tiny solar panels on microbes,” said lead researcher Julea Butt at the University of East Anglia UEA.L.
“These will harness sunlight and drive the production of hydrogen, from which the technologies to release energy on demand are well-advanced.”
Hydrogen is a zero-emission fuel which can power vehicles or be transformed into electricity.
“We imagine that our photocatalysts will prove versatile and that with slight modification they will be able to harness solar energy for the manufacture of carbon-based fuels, drugs and fine chemicals,” she added.
The 800,000 pound project will be undertaken by scientists from UEA and Cambridge and Leeds universities.
The scientists believe copying photosynthesis could be more efficient in harnessing the sun’s energy than existing solar converters.