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A hydrogen economy could create bigger, longer-lasting ozone holes over the polar regions, according to new research published in the journal Science. The results imply that hydrogen might not be quite the perfect green fuel it is sometimes made out to be.

The new study suggests that if hydrogen is widely used for energy production, leaks from its production and transport could increase the amount of the gas in the atmosphere, worsening ozone depletion.

Researchers calculated that replacing all oil- and gas-burning technologies with hydrogen fuel cells would lead to four to eight times more hydrogen emitted to the atmosphere. When they modelled the effects of this increase, they found that it would cool the upper atmosphere, which would in turn encourage chemical reactions that destroy the ozone layer.

Link to Nature Science Update news story 'Hydrogen fuel could widen ozone hole'

Link to Science paper