Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are conducting a research to artificially replicate photosynthesis - the process by which plants transform sunlight into energy to help them grow.

The researchers are exploring possibilities of generating hydrogen from this process, which can then be employed as an emission-free fuel to power vehicles or generate electricity.

UEA school of Chemistry and school of Biological Sciences lead researcher Prof Julea Butt said that the demand for renewable energy is ever-increasing as the reserves of fossil fuels are dwindling causing fuel prices to increase.

"We have been inspired by natural plant processes. During plant photosynthesis, fuels are made naturally from the energy in sunlight.

"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," added Butt.

The £800,000 project will be funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council with researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Cambridge also collaborating.