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First Mode building hydrogen fuel cell to power one of the biggest zero-emission vehicles on Earth

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probably it's an affirmation
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Summary (IA Generated)

An ultra-class haul truck carries tons of ore.

In a few months, First Mode will take the generator to South Africa, where it will be retrofitted into a massive, 300-metric-ton haul truck to create “one of the biggest zero-emission vehicles on the planet,” said Chris Voorhees, the company’s president and chief engineer.

5 million deal First Mode signed with global mining giant Anglo American in 2019, and part of a new direction for a company that got its start working on spacecraft and Mars rovers.

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.

Ultra-class haul trucks are a far different type of vehicle than the Mars rovers the First Mode teams have worked on in the past.

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.

First Mode 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.

There are two major differences between those fuel cells and what First Mode is doing.

The haulers’ 2-megawatt generators are “a utility-grade power and utility problem that happens to be an off-road vehicle,” he said.

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.

“I’ve worked on designing vehicles for Mars and I think (mining) is worse,” he said.

They’ll also start looking for other customers who could use large-scale, clean-power generators that need to move around, Voorhees said.

“The haul-truck application is not the low-hanging fruit,” he said.


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