Automotive editor Jonathan Gitlin of Ars Technica recently spent some time talking to First Mode’s Chris Voorhees about our work on two very different hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: an off-road racer for the Baja 1000 with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, and a retrofit of a Komatsu 930E mining haul truck with Anglo American.
At first glance, an open-pit platinum mine in South Africa and the Baja 1000 off-road race don’t have much in common other than an excess of dust. But both have been chosen by a company called First Mode to be test sites for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. The sites will stress-test the technology.
“We’ve been finding the not-low-hanging fruit problems in decarbonization, and those are the hard-to-operate places. Your environment is harsh, it’s dusty, it’s thermally driven to an extreme,” said Chris Voorhees, president of First Mode … “Getting the fuel cells to operate in an environment where your boundary conditions aren’t as controlled is, for us, essential at being able to map the technology to some of these applications that are mobile, big, dirty, and operating in places that it actually took us a while to get the internal combustion engine to do a really good job.”