[Documents menu] Documents menu

From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Sun Jul 27 11:00:06 2003
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2003 05:45:26 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mark Graffis <mgraffis@vitelcom.net>
Subject: Hydrogen Report is Full of Hot Air
Article: 162027
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hydrogen Report is Full of Hot Air

By Sam Jaffe, The Scientist, Vol. 17, no. 15, 28 July 2003

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 leak would cause the whole transportation network to fail.

The paper’s authors did not return phone calls; however, an editor at Science, which published the work, welcomed the criticism: It certainly is a lively issue that needs to be addressed, says H. Jesse Smith.

Senior scientist Susan Solomon, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, notes that since the 1970s, stratospheric hydrogen has increased by 25% with no measurable effects. The paper seems quite speculative. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it was published.

1 T. Tromp et al., Potential environmental impact of a hydrogen economy on the stratosphere, Science, 300:1740, June 13, 2003.