Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use

Plant power: Plants vs Petrol

Copyright: University of York

Plants vs petrol! is part of a series of animations about the ways that everyday plants are doing amazing things.


Our dependence on fossil fuels is complex and it’s increasing. We need a sustainable solution. What about using the sun’s energy to power our cars? We already use the sun’s energy to create electricity but it’s difficult to store and it isn’t available on demand: so we need a liquid fuel.

Plants make liquid fuels from sunlight using a chemical reaction, but they’re not very good at it. Scientists are trying to make an improved version of this process using artificial leaves. If we could improve it to make fuel more efficiently, and pack all this fuel producing leaf power into a much smaller space, we could have a bottomless supply of sustainably produced liquid fuel.

Plants can’t solve all of the world’s problems, but in the hands of some forward thinking scientists, they could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and on the list of global problems worth addressing: that’s a big one.



UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: energy plants synthetic biology video news