Liquide opens Las Vegas facility to meet rising hydrogen fuel cell vehicles demand

Liquide opens Las Vegas facility to meet rising hydrogen fuel cell vehicles demand

June 9, 2022 0 By Julie Campbell

The liquid H2 production plant will also include a logistics center serving the mobility sector.

Air Liquide has announced the opining of a new facility in Las Vegas, setting liquid H2 production in place to meet the growing demand from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The North Las Vegas production facility and logistics center is the next step in the company’s H2 vision.

The plant is a 30-ton liquid hydrogen production facility. Air Liquide intends to use it to move ahead with its intentions to capitalize on rising demands from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. As the transitions to H2 economies continues, the company intends to ensure that it has secured a top spot in meeting those needs.

Officially, the new plant opened on May 24, but its grand opening was this week. It is capable of producing adequate H2 to fuel 40,000 vehicles. The H2 is produced using steam reforming, which uses natural gas.

It is important to note that while the H2 itself is emission-free as a fuel, this method of its production does produce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, it is not blue hydrogen, as the facility does not employ carbon capture and storage technologies. Air Liquide intends to try to offset some of those emissions by sourcing its natural gas from renewable sources such as landfills, according to the company’s director and advocate for hydrogen energy David Edwards.

This helps to ensure adequate refueling for the rising needs of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Edwards explained that because the methane from the landfill sources of natural gas would usually be emitted into the atmosphere, by capturing it and using it to create liquid H2, the outcome is a reduction of carbon intensity when compared to producing it with conventional fossil fuels such as diesel. Though far from a carbon emission-free method of production, it is intended to reduce carbon emissions in comparison to other conventional production methods.

Furthermore, Edwards also pointed out that the Las Vegas plant will be powered by clean energy and has been designed for reduced water reduction – a feature that is of particular importance in that geographical area. The water usage will be lower than what would have been required for an electrolyzer, which splits water in order to produce the H2 used by hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The facility to meet the demand for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles was first planned in 2017.

Air Liquide had already been planning to build the Las Vegas facility 5 years ago, well before there was a substantial national conversation underway, as is the case today, said Edwards. As far back as 2015, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were already becoming a subject of growing interest in California and in the warehousing sector across the country.

Air Liquide recognized the size of demand back at that time and opted for a site in Las Vegas to meet that need. The site was selected for its proximity to the market in California, where the company has since been building out its refueling station network. The location was also made highly appealing to the company as city officials stepped in to expedite the project for rapid construction.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles - Las Vegas on Map

“The other thing that goes into picking a location is making sure you have available power, feedstock, access to transportation and favorable potential for the future,” said Edwards as reported in a recent Utility Dive report. “The Las Vegas area represents potential for growth with all of the potential entertainment venues, and growth happening on the northwest side is a good opportunity from the warehousing and trucking markets.”

Though the primary intention of the facility will be to meet the fueling needs of the growing number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – including the 13,000 already on Californian roads – it is also expected that specialty applications at that state’s ports and warehouses will also be catered to. The liquid hydrogen will also likely be sold to a range of different industry customers such as specialty chemicals and metals.

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