The downside to hydrogen fuel cells…

Group: Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Hurt Ozone
Widespread use of the hydrogen fuel cells that President Bush has made a centerpiece of his energy plan might not be as environmentally friendly as many believe.

Scientists say the new technology could lead to greater destruction of the ozone layer that protects Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. [Yahoo! News]

Here’s the downside:

In an article in this week’s edition of Science magazine, researchers at the California Institute of Technology raised the possibility that if hydrogen fuel replaced fossil fuels entirely, it could be expected that 10 percent to 20 percent of the hydrogen would leak from pipelines, storage facilities, processing plants and fuel cells in cars and at power plants.

Because hydrogen readily travels skyward, the researchers estimated that its increased use could lead to as much as a tripling of hydrogen molecules — both manmade and from natural sources — going into the stratosphere, where it would oxidize and form water.

“This would result in cooling of the lower stratosphere and the disturbance of ozone chemistry,” the researchers wrote. It would mean bigger and longer-lasting ozone holes in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where drops in ozone levels have been recorded over the past 20 years. They estimated that ozone depletion could be as much as 8 percent.