Boffins at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford have invented an ‘artificial’ petrol, which costs just 90 pence per gallon and could run in existing cars.
Motorists could even be able to drive for 300 to 400 miles before needing to fill up.
The breakthrough comes as average UK fuel prices have hit a record high.
The new hydrogen-based fuel produces no greenhouse gases and could be available in as little as three years.
Professor Stephen Bennington, the project’s lead scientist, said: “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.
“Our new hydrogen storage materials offer real potential for running cars, planes and other vehicles that currently use hydrocarbons.”
How is it made?
Cella Energy, which is developing the technology, believes that conventional means for containing hydrides are not ideal.
It says: "Storing hydrogen up to now has required either high-pressure storage cylinders at up to 700 times atmospheric pressure or super-cooled liquids at -253 degree Celsius.
“Neither is practical on a large scale as these hydrogen storage methods both require large amounts of energy to either pressurise or cool the hydrogen, and present significant safety risks."
The company has a found a low-cost way to trap the hydride compound inside a nano-porous polymer micro bead.
The result is a revolutionary synthetic fuel, which is formed of ‘micro-beads’ that can be poured and pumped like a liquid.
Stephen Voller, of Cellar Energy, which is developing the technology, said: “We have developed 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. 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.”