REVOLUTIONARY new technology that produces ''petrol from air'' is being refined by a British firm.

The small company in the north of England has developed the ''air capture'' technology to create synthetic petrol using only air and electricity.

Experts have hailed the breakthrough as a revolution in the battle against climate change and dwindling energy supplies.

The ''petrol from air'' technology, presented to a London engineering conference last week, extracts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and hydrogen from water vapour. It then combines them to produce methanol, which is processed to form petrol.

The company, Air Fuel Syndication, says it produced five litres of petrol in less than three months from a small refinery. The fuel can be used in any regular petrol-powered vehicle.

The project was backed by unnamed philanthropists.

While the technology has the backing of Britain's Institution of Mechanical Engineers, it has yet to capture the interest of major oil companies.

But company executives hope to build a large plant, which could produce more than a tonne of petrol every day, within two years.

Stephen Tetlow, the institution's chief executive, hailed the breakthrough as ''truly groundbreaking''.

Telegraph, London