THE University of Bolton has teamed up with a world leading research centre in America to launch what they hope will be one of the most environmentally friendly cars of the future.

Researchers at Bolton are working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, USA — where scientific expertise has been recognised with 13 Nobel prizes — on developing nano-composite materials to store hydrogen more efficiently and produce hydrogen powered vehicles.

Dr Sofoklis Makridis from Bolton’s Institution for Renewable Energy and Environmental Technologies (IREET) is researching and developing the complex composite nanomaterial at Bolton.

He said: “Hydrogen storage is the ‘Holy Grail’ in the hydrogen economy and green technologies.

“The techniques we use in this project are to turn materials into more efficient hydrogen absorbers.

“The main idea is for electric cars coupled with fuel cells.”

Scientists and environmentalists see hydrogen as an ideal clean fuel as it produces no air pollutants or greenhouse gases.

But hydrogen contains much less energy than petrol or diesel so the vehicle does not travel far, which means it is more difficult to make it a viable cost-effective alternative to traditional fossil fuels.

Researchers at the two centres are helping to find efficient ways of storing the gas and the project could revolutionise the green energy and hydrogen storage sector in the UK.

Many of the world’s top car manufacturers are developing hydrogen powered vehicles, but their cost still makes them a more expensive alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Dr Makridis says working in collaboration with such an esteemed academic institution like Berkeley can only improve the prospects of a long-term hydrogen storage industry in the UK.

He also believes that hydrogen could be a viable alternative to fossil fuels within a decade.

Dr Makridis said: “Wherever we need power, green power, we need to use hydrogen.

“I am optimistic that 10 years from now we will see our results in practice.”