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Hydrogen-based fuel produces no greenhouse gases so could help nations slash their carbon footprint

Stephen Voller, Chief Executive of Cella Energy said he is confident the new fuel will work in existing cars A revolutionary synthetic fuel which costs just 90 pence per gallon and will run in existing cars could spell the end of sky high prices at the pumps.

With current petrol prices at 128.6p per litre, the new hydrogen-based fuel could offer much-needed respite for motorists.But critics argue that it could be years before the alternative is widely-available. As it is hydrogen-based it produces no greenhouse gases at all so could help nations slash the size of their carbon footprint .

It is hoped the technology, developed in a top secret programme at an English laboratory, could spell the end of dramatic petrol price fluctuations.In the short-term British drivers could be spared a proposed 1p a litre rise in fuel duty which is due to come into force in April.

Sharing the pain of rising oil prices between the Treasury and the motorist through the ‘fair fuel stabiliser’ is also still being considered, it was confirmed yesterday.Over the long-term relief could be on the way.

Cella Energy, who have developed the new fuel, based on hydrides, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, are confident that it will run in existing cars.Stephen Voller, Chief Executive of Cella Energy, told website gizmag: ‘We have developed new micro-beads that can be used in an existing gasoline or petrol vehicle to replace oil-based fuels.

‘Early indications are that the micro-beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification. Petrol is now an average of 128.3p per litre at the pumps - and there is little sign of prices coming down

The materials are hydrogen-based, and so when used produce no carbon emissions at the point of use, in a similar way to electric vehicles.’Motorists will be able to drive for 300 to 400 miles before refuelling.

The patented hydride consists of tiny micro-fibres - 30 times smaller than a single hair's width - which form a tissue-like material that is safe to handle in the air.

Professor Stephen Bennington, who is leading the team of scientists, said that hydrogen offers the ideal solution to dwindling crude oil supplies.  ‘In some senses hydrogen is the perfect fuel. It has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns it produces nothing but water,’ he said.

‘But the only way to pack it into a vehicle is to use very high pressures or very low temperatures, both of which are expensive to do.‘Our new hydrogen storage materials offer real potential for running cars, planes and other vehicles that currently use hydrocarbons on hydrogen, with little extra cost and no extra inconvenience to the driver.

With fuel prices soaring, in the short-term George Osborne is determined to use his Budget on March 23 to respond to public disquiet about petrol prices and head off threatened fuel protests by hauliers. 

Unlike existing 'green' fuels the new fuel under development will not require motorists to upgrade their vehicles. The proposal for a fair fuel stabiliser, championed by David Cameron, had looked dead and buried earlier this week when Robert Chote, head of the new independent economic watchdog, branded it unworkable.

But Government sources said there was a good chance that a new system, where the rate of duty would be cut as oil prices rise and increased as they fall, could work.

A strong possibility, one source said, is that the Chancellor will announce he is scrapping the 1p rise and allowing more time for the Treasury to draw up the fair fuel stabiliser.

Officials close to the Chancellor said the scheme would ‘not be technically difficult to implement’.But they say there are risks about the long-term impact on the public finances at a time when the Government needs every penny of income it can find.

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