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Air Pollution and Climate-Forcing Impacts of a Global Hydrogen Economy

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Science  24 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5645, pp. 624-627
DOI: 10.1126/science.1089527

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Abstract

If today's surface traffic fleet were powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cell technology, anthropogenic emissions of the ozone precursors nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide could be reduced by up to 50%, leading to significant improvements in air quality throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Model simulations of such a scenario predict a decrease in global OH and an increased lifetime of methane, caused primarily by the reduction of the NOx emissions. The sign of the change in climate forcing caused by carbon dioxide and methane depends on the technology used to generate the molecular hydrogen. A possible rise in atmospheric hydrogen concentrations is unlikely to cause significant perturbations of the climate system.

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