A bench-top propagator that uses carbon dioxide to boost plant growth has won four Farnborough Sixth Form College students first prize in this year's BOC Inspiring Gases Challenge.

Developed by AS level students Judith Falkner, Jonathan Talbot-Hammond, David Riley and Philip Bye, CO2Grow is a sealed plastic propagator fitted with lighting, a water sprinkler system and CO2 gas canister which feeds enriching gas to young plants at timed intervals. The propagator operates on the principle that increased concentrations of CO2 can significantly aid plant photosynthesis and plant growth, by in some instances, as much as 40 percent.

While it is used in industrial greenhouses, CO2 is not widely available to 'hobby' gardeners - something the Farnborough students are keen to change.

Presenting the Challenge award, BOC national sales manager and chair of the judging panel, David Beech, said, $quot;The standard of entry from all the schools involved in the BOC Inspiring Gases Challenge was superb. The judging panel was impressed by the team from Farnborough Sixth Form College; they had a very comprehensive business plan for CO2Grow, had clearly put a lot of effort into testing the product and thought into the product imagery and marketing.$quot;

The annual BOC Inspiring Gases Challenge invites pupils from across Surrey to develop potentially commercial ideas based around carbon dioxide or helium. Working with BOC science ambassador, Helen Atherton and Rob Ames from SETPOINT Surrey, pupils from five schools were required to design and make prototypes of their invention as well as pitch a business plan to a panel of BOC judges.

The final of the BOC Inspiring Gases Challenge was held at BOC's offices in Guildford and runners-up Godalming College received a special commendation from the BOC judges.