Trending:Bezos and the Bills (a.k.a., the three B’s): A Seattle Business Story
Haul truck
An ultra-class haul truck carries tons of ore. (Anglo American Photo)

Seattle engineering company第一模式is building a hydrogen fuel cell generator capable of lighting up Lumen Field. But the technology is destined for an environment far from the bright lights of a football stadium.

在几个月后,第一模式将把发电机带到南非,在那里它将被改装成一个大规模的300公吨的运输工具,以创造“地球最大的零排放车辆之一”,称克里斯·沃尔希尔说, the company’s president and chief engineer.

这是三年,1350万美元的第一模式signed with global mining giant Anglo Americanin 2019, and part of a new direction for a company that got its start working on spacecraft and Mars rovers.

“The robotic exploration of the solar system, that’s where the DNA of the company is,” Voorhees said. But the way they would go about solving engineering problems in space — where “you never have enough mass, you never have enough volume, you never have enough power and you never have enough data, and your environment is trying to kill you” — led Voorhees and his team to think they could tackle engineering challenges in other extreme environments.



A rendering shows the components of a hydrogen-fueled mine haul truck. (Anglo American Graphic)


For starters, they’re as tall as a three-story building, and they weigh “about a million pounds,” Voorhees said. They’re built to carry up to 300 metric tons of ore from open-pit mines to nearby processing plants. Anglo-American operates fleets of these dinosaur-sized Tonka trucks at its mines, each one burning thousands of gallons of diesel to fuel the 2-megawatt on-board generator that powers each vehicle.


第一模式is designing and building a hydrogen fuel cell generator to do just that.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical process that generates electricity. The only byproduct is water vapor. Such fuel cells are used now to power forklifts and buses; Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are or will be in the market this year with hydrogen-powered automobiles.


And the other is that it’s a retrofit project. To succeed, First Mode must fit the generator into the available space and “get it converted in a way that creates a good marriage between the existing platform and this new source of energy,” Voorhees said.

It’s a much different challenge for a bunch of space designers, he said.


The goal, he said, is to finish assembly of the generator in Seattle within the next few weeks, test it and then ship it to South Africa for installation and field testing starting in June. With field test results in hand, First Mode will then modify its design for follow-on haulers.


“haul-truck应用程序不是低垂fruit,” he said. “If we can make it work in that environment, we can make it work anywhere, and there are a bunch of industrial applications that could benefit.”


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs onGeekWork。雇主,post a job here