News | July 28, 2000

DOE to build hydrogen / electricity co-production system in Las Vegas

Within a few years, Southern Nevadans may be able to fuel their vehicles with clean-burning hydrogen, thanks to a cooperative agreement signed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Air Products and Chemical, Inc. The agreement for cost-shared development of the world's first hydrogen electrical generating system and a hydrogen and hydrogen-enriched natural gas fueling station is the result of a partnership that includes the City of Las Vegas.

"This effort brings together world leaders in hydrogen technology with the progressive city of Las Vegas. The City has undertaken a major commitment to implement clean, efficient and renewable energy technologies in Southern Nevada," said Kathy Carlson, DOE Nevada Operations Office manager. "This project is a model for introducing hydrogen fuel at a reasonable cost."

In a letter to Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, Nevada Senator Harry Reid praised the effort. "This important project promises to become the benchmark for new natural gas-based hydrogen production systems," said Reid. "Most importantly, this facility will serve as a commercial demonstration of hydrogen as a safe and clean energy alternative." The use of fuels such as hydrogen as replacements for fossil energy has been proposed as part of the solution to environmental climate change issues such as global warming while at the same time achieving higher fuel efficiencies and lower costs.

The budget for the five-year project is $10.8 million. Costs will be split evenly between the Air Products team and DOE. The Air Products team includes Plug Power, a New York based Fuel Cell Manufacturer. This research and development team will design, construct, and operate the hydrogen facility. Along with support for development of the new facility, DOE is sharing the cost of converting vehicles for use with hydrogen or hydrogen-enriched natural gas and plans, along with the City of Las Vegas, to use the new hydrogen station for refueling.

"This combination of low-emission vehicle systems and hydrogen-power technology is a big win for the Department in meeting its national goals of energy security and improved air quality," said Bob Golden, DOE Nevada's hydrogen program manager. "The way to bridge the gap between research and development and real-world application is to provide an opportunity for industry to make a profit. By selling both hydrogen and electricity, the cost of both products can be reduced compared to the cost of selling either by itself."

Edited by John McKnight, Assistant Editor