Articles | Volume 13, issue 13
Research article
01 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 01 Jul 2013

Impact of a future H2-based road transportation sector on the composition and chemistry of the atmosphere – Part 2: Stratospheric ozone

D. Wang, W. Jia, S. C. Olsen, D. J. Wuebbles, M. K. Dubey, and A. A. Rockett

Abstract. The prospective future adoption of molecular hydrogen (H2) to power the road transportation sector could greatly improve tropospheric air quality but also raises the question of whether the adoption would have adverse effects on the stratospheric ozone. The possibility of undesirable impacts must be fully evaluated to guide future policy decisions. Here we evaluate the possible impact of a future (2050) H2-based road transportation sector on stratospheric composition and chemistry, especially on the stratospheric ozone, with the MOZART (Model for OZone And Related chemical Tracers) model. Since future growth is highly uncertain, we evaluate the impact of two world evolution scenarios, one based on an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) high-emitting scenario (A1FI) and the other on an IPCC low-emitting scenario (B1), as well as two technological options: H2 fuel cells and H2 internal combustion engines. We assume a H2 leakage rate of 2.5% and a complete market penetration of H2 vehicles in 2050. The model simulations show that a H2-based road transportation sector would reduce stratospheric ozone concentrations as a result of perturbed catalytic ozone destruction cycles. The magnitude of the impact depends on which growth scenario evolves and which H2 technology option is applied. For the evolution growth scenario, stratospheric ozone decreases more in the H2 fuel cell scenarios than in the H2 internal combustion engine scenarios because of the NOx emissions in the latter case. If the same technological option is applied, the impact is larger in the A1FI emission scenario. The largest impact, a 0.54% decrease in annual average global mean stratospheric column ozone, is found with a H2 fuel cell type road transportation sector in the A1FI scenario; whereas the smallest impact, a 0.04% increase in stratospheric ozone, is found with applications of H2 internal combustion engine vehicles in the B1 scenario. The impacts of the other two scenarios fall between the above two boundary scenarios. However, the magnitude of these changes is much smaller than the increases in 2050 stratospheric ozone projected, as stratospheric ozone is expected to recover due to the limits in ozone depleting substance emissions imposed in the Montreal Protocol.

Final-revised paper