NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There is a new production facility that is on the forefront of the emerging market for alternative fuels.
In this week's Nevada Built, Todd Quinones heads north, where a French company is hoping to change the direction of America's energy consumption.
We are travelling on a barren two mile stretch of a desert road north of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Our destination, a place that is barely on any map.
This is a brand new liquid hydrogen plant, unique to the Las Vegas valley.
APEX INDUSTRIAL PARK
"When you're up here, it doesn't even feel like we're in Las Vegas. It feels like we're sort of in no man's land," says Todd. "No, we are definitely out in the middle of the desert here," says Steven Spencer, Plant Manager of Air Liquide's new plant in the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.
We got a tour of this Nevada Built facility that is about to begin production of liquid hydrogen.
"Pretty much you feel like you guys are ready to go," says Todd. "We're very close to being ready to go. We're targeting being in full production by the end of next month," says Spencer.
Much is being made about electric vehicles being the future of the mobile fuel industry. But Spencer says there is a place for liquid hydrogen in that space.
This plant, owned by the French Company, was built specifically for the California market.
"Our targeted market is the hydrogen mobility market, so that's fuel cell electric vehicles, that ranges from personal cars to forklifts, long haul trucking," says Spencer.
Liquid hydrogen is also used to fuel rockets, which gives you an indication of how flammable it is.
"Safety is a huge component and you're saying once this thing gets turned on and becomes operational, we really couldn't be standing out here like we are now in our sort of a plain clothes," says Todd. "No, we could not. I mean, safety is fundamental for us. Once we actually turn on the key and start this facility, this all becomes restricted area. We have to have a full line of PPE on; flame retardant clothing, personal gas monitoring," says Spencer.
19 employees will be operating Air Liquide's plant 24/7, producing about 29 tons of hydrogen a day.
"What would you say to people who would say, Well, I'm concerned. Is there some safety concerns for me or my family?" asks Todd. "What I would say is there's inherent safety concerns in any facility like this, but a lot goes into, you know, keeping this as safe as possible," says Spencer.
To be clear, the U.S. Department of Energy indicates "A number of hydrogen's properties make it safer to handle and use than the fuels commonly used..." Spencer adds, he and his team work very closley with area first responders to make sure operations at the plant are safe.