Potential Environmental Impact of Hydrogen-based Transportation and Power Systems
U.S. Department of Energy

The overall goal of the project is to examine the environmental effects of hydrogen use in transportation and stationary applications, focusing on the impacts of various hydrogen production pathways and use on the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere, long-term stability of the ozone layer, and climate changes.

In the first step, the emissions from the major technologies for generating hydrogen were compiled for natural gas reforming, coal gasification with and without carbon sequestration, and wind, solar, and nuclear power to generate hydrogen gas by electrolysis of water. This information was supplemented with data for the criteria pollutants from the US EPA National Emission Inventory for on-road mobile, non-road mobile, point and area sources and results of life-cycle analyses of alternative vehicles from the GREET 2.7 model.

Next, the projected emissions were used as input to the GATOR-GCMOM model, that predicts tropospheric and stratospheric concentrations of gases and aerosols including CO2, CH4, O3, H2, water vapor, VOCs, and particulate matter. Because of the importance of H2 uptake and conversion by soils, the modelís soil routine was updated to mechanistically simulate H2 behavior. The GATOR-GCMOM model-predicted concentrations of H2 and greenhouse gases were used to estimate effects on climate such as changes in air temperature, cloud production, ozone levels, and production of photochemical smog. The concentrations of the criteria pollutants (CO, lead, NO2, SOX, ozone, PM2.5 and PM10) and greenhouse gases were compared to health effects levels and national ambient air quality standards to evaluate potential effects or benefits to human health and ecosystems. Other possible environmental effects from the hydrogen generation or use technologies were also identified. Overall, the results indicate that switching from the existing fossil-fuel onroad vehicle fleet to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fleet will reduce air pollution, health, and climate problems and costs.

Tom Grieb
925 283 3771
Tetra Tech, Inc.
3746 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Suite 300
Lafayette, CA 94549
Reports & Presentations
Potential Environmental Impacts of Hydrogen-Based Transportation & Power Systems. PDF