An American university professor has come up with a new automobile fuel based on aluminium that could lead to hydrogen engines that run on water.

The professor, Jerry Woodall, discovered the fuel process quite by accident, while cleaning a crucible. The reserve contained gallium and aluminum liquid alloys, which reacted when water was added by splitting the mixture into hydrogen and aluminum oxide.

After some refinement, Woodall and his lab colleagues have hit on a solid way of creating the mixture, such that hydrogen can be siphoned off and used as engine fuel and the aluminum oxide can be reused in the next process.

A pound of aluminum gives forth about two kilowatts of power, meaning that a 350-mile trip in a standard vehicle would require 350 pounds of aluminum and cost about $60. That dollar figure is fairly representative of current gasoline costs for the same distance.