A hole in hopes for hydrogen power?
Scientists model scenarios where hydrogen leaks could further erode ozone
Widespread use of hydrogen to power cars and even homes,
seen by many as the Holy Grail of clean energy, could actually increase
the hole in Earth’s protective ozone shield, researchers said in
a study released Thursday. The scientists emphasized, however, that their
research reflects a need to better understand hydrogen and is not a call
to stop the transition to hydrogen-based power in lieu of polluting fossil
THE TEAM at the California Institute of Technology modeled
what would happen if all oil- and gas-burning technologies were replaced
with hydrogen fuel cells.
The model assumed that extracting, storing and then shipping hydrogen
via a factory process would lead to leakage levels like what’s seen
in existing, albeit limited, hydrogen extraction industry. That in turn
would increase manmade hydrogen emissions by four to eight times, the
team reported in the journal Science.
That kind of increase, they then found, would make Earth’s stratosphere
cloudier and cooler as hydrogen molecules oxidize and form water. The
lower temperatures would encourage chemical reactions that “make
the ozone hole deeper, larger (in area), and more persistent” when
it forms each spring, the scientists wrote.
The holes that appear in the north and south could increase by as much
as 7 and 4 percent, respectively, while the holes could last five to eight
days longer, the scientists concluded.