Southwest Gas Announces Groundbreaking Hydrogen-Blending Pilot Program with University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Category: Nevada

Unveiling Event Held on April 15 at UNLV’s Stan Fulton Building

LAS VEGAS – Southwest Gas is teaming up with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to study how hydrogen-blended natural gas can further reduce carbon emissions while still providing clean and reliable energy. The official unveiling is on Friday, April 15, from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Stan Fulton Building on the UNLV Campus (801 E. Flamingo Rd.). Experts from UNLV’s Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering will provide guidance as an unbiased third party and work in partnership with Southwest Gas to develop the studies. The research will be conducted at Southwest Gas’ Emergency Response Training Facility (EMRF) in Henderson, Nev., to help gain insights into the feasibility of using hydrogen to shape a low-carbon, sustainable energy future. The study is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022, with the first phase lasting several months. The results of the first phase will help determine the scope and duration of subsequent phases.
When complete, the study will help determine:
  • The optimal, safest and most environmentally effective hydrogen/natural gas blend percentage
  • Safety aspects of hydrogen-blending
  • The physical impacts of hydrogen on the natural gas distribution system and common natural gas appliances
  • The effects of hydrogen/natural gas blending on heating times and temperatures in comparison to existing heating times of natural gas
  • The economics of hydrogen
The Southwest Gas EMRF is the ideal location to conduct the study as it offers systems that replicate the natural gas distribution system and real-world natural gas appliances in a controlled environment. The partnership with UNLV is a proof of concept that will allow Southwest Gas to use the university’s electrolyzer, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules with an electric current, to test the production, blending, distribution, and end-use of the hydrogen blend. Electrolysis creates green hydrogen, which will then be blended with natural gas at various levels for the study – 5%, 10% and 20% – and then injected into the existing natural gas infrastructure at EMRF. The hydrogen-blended gas will be tested on natural gas appliances as well as monitored for leak detection to determine any differences needed in procedures to ensure the continued safety of the local communities.

As part of Southwest Gas’ commitment to reducing emissions by advancing hydrogen technology, the Company is also launching two additional complementary pilot programs. One program is being run concurrently at Arizona State University in Tempe. Southwest Gas’ EMRF in Tempe will host university engineers to test pre-bottled hydrogen blends with a mixture of 20%. The second additional program is being spearheaded by the Southwest Gas Hydrogen Pilot Action Team and consists of creating
demonstrations based around the properties of blended hydrogen, with major milestones that include using a natural gas barbecue to grill with 5% hydrogen blended gas.

“While clean, affordable and reliable natural gas has already helped drive emissions reductions, we believe Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) and hydrogen are powerful solutions to further decarbonize our system,” says Southwest Gas President and CEO, John Hester. “Like we have done with RNG, we are taking a proactive pioneering approach to hydrogen. UNLV is an integral part of the Las Vegas community, and this partnership will help shape the low-carbon future for our Company, and most importantly, the communities we serve throughout Nevada. We look forward to demonstrating how hydrogen blended with natural gas can provide everyday energy needs while further reducing emissions.”

“This collaboration’s ideas about developing a green energy microgrid to power our campus is highly attractive, given our dedication to a green energy future, and indeed to innovation overall,” says Bo J. Bernhard, vice president of Economic Development at UNLV, adding, “These are the kinds of partnerships and innovations that we seek to pursue.”

Hydrogen is an abundant, low-emissions resource of which the only by-product of hydrogen combustion is water. It can be used for transportation, electricity generation and industry, which are all considered difficult to decarbonize, while also being blended with renewable natural gas and traditional natural gas for distribution by the existing natural gas distribution system to serve homes and businesses. Along with providing everyday energy needs, hydrogen is available in times of low sun, nights and when the wind is not blowing, adding a reliable fuel source to the green-energy mix. In addition, excess renewable electricity can be used to create renewable hydrogen, which is stored for later use, helping to solve the renewable energy storage challenge.

Southwest Gas serves more than two million customers in Arizona, California and Nevada with clean, affordable natural gas safely and reliably.

About UNLV:
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 30,000 students and nearly 4,000 faculty and staff that has earned the nation’s highest recognition for both research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diverse population and workforce, driving economic activity, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Stephen Miller