Frontlines | Hydrogen Report is Full of Hot Air

A paper1 claiming that a hydrogen economy could deleteriously affect the ozone layer is under fire. The popular media covered the report because of its iconoclastic attack on assumptions made by hydrogen optimists. However, few publications have noted charges that some of the authors' assumptions are flawed.

If the United States were to adopt a hydrogen economy, the paper claims, then 20% of the gas, or 120 teragrams, would leak annually into the atmosphere. Hydrogen would combine with oxygen in the stratosphere and enlarge the polar ozone holes. "It might be that [the writers] are well versed in atmospheric science, but they know nothing about hydrogen," says hydrogen specialist Reinhold Wurster of LBST, a consultancy based in Munich. Hydrogen, he says, must be pumped into cars at 700 bars of pressure (700 times normal atmospheric pressure), so even a microscopic...

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