Our “Meet the Team” series profiles the creative and curious people of First Mode. We are driven to find purposeful technology solutions to the world’s most important challenges. We take our work seriously but ourselves not too seriously. Want to work with us? View our open positions here.
Hi Eduardo! What do you do at First Mode?
I am a Senior Process Engineer working on green hydrogen production and refueling systems.
What are you working on right now?
In addition to leading the design of a hydrogen bulk distribution facility, I am supporting a green hydrogen production project and collaborating with our modeling & simulation team’s effort to create technical-economic models for some emerging renewable markets.
Why is this important?
We must work quickly to decarbonize our supply chain for the sake of our planet, our people, and our ecosystems. The work I previously described will establish a supply of the right renewable fuels for heavily polluting industries.
With the right renewable energy blend, we could build infrastructure and products that are emissions-free from their inception! Imagine a world in which we extract raw materials and move vehicles without producing tons of CO2 and other pollutants.
What drew you to First Mode originally?
I learned that First Mode’s team likes to tackle tough challenges and that they were working on decarbonizing mining and other sectors. Once I understood the challenge ahead and saw how my previous cryogenic processing experience could be useful, I decided to look into the company further. The people I met and the company’s atmosphere reminded me of MIT, where I saw many bright people continuously innovating and pushing the state of the art. It seemed like the right team to go fight global warming with.
How did your passion for renewable energy begin?
I grew up in Puerto Rico. Like other island economies, Puerto Rico imports petroleum products, coal, and other hydrocarbons to fuel vehicles and power generation facilities. This happens despite public interest in protecting the environment, fighting global warming, and reducing the expensive power rates that increase every year. These factors made me curious: can energy get cheaper while simultaneously going green?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that what I do makes a difference today and will make a larger impact tomorrow. As those close to me know, I believe I am saving the world every day, one day at a time. Oh, and my dog.
What does your typical day look like?
Typical? Ha ha, they vary much but here is a recent example: After responding to a couple of emails with customer and vendor questions, I load my process simulator to complete the refrigeration analysis I was doing at the end of yesterday. Slack message from an engineer: “Hey, can you give me a rough idea of the trade-offs of A versus B?” “Sure, give me a minute.” I generate charts and share them. Next, I go to a meeting to work on the architecture of a first-of-its-kind hydrogen system. After lunch, I meet to plan the strategy for an upcoming project and then attend one of our weekly meditation sessions at the office. I spend the rest of the day speaking with software engineers about facility, operations, and process considerations that we must implement in the current modeling sprint.
Did you have a hero or heroine figure growing up?
Yes, my parents. Through their actions they taught me about perseverance, ingenuity, courage, and resiliency.
Do you have a mantra, a motto, or a mission statement?
Live by action, not by reaction.
What is great about process engineering?
It offers so much flexibility! Process engineering has allowed me to design, commission, and/or operate facilities producing hydrogen, biofuels, gas, LNG, and LPG. From a technical standpoint, it has been quite educational to work on so many different systems in the US and abroad.
Also, the chemical engineering fundamentals helped me understand many things about how nature works, which is useful for many practical situations such as working with an A/C technician or when you are helping troubleshoot your neighbor’s backyard hydroponics setup.
Could you point to a project that you are most proud of?
Once upon a time I was on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean installing a refrigeration system. It was beautiful to see the project from start to finish: seeing process drawings turned into real equipment skids, shipping the skids across the world to a tropical paradise, starting them up safely, and training the plant personnel on safe operations.
What do you think is the most significant discovery or human endeavor of the last few years?
I was impressed by the quick development and roll-out of the COVID vaccines. It was great seeing the world’s scientific, business, medical, and pharmaceutical communities work on a common goal with such dedication.
Why does it matter that we keep inventing, testing, and creating?
Because change is constant, the problems of today will not be the same as tomorrow.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I love traveling, hanging out with my dog, and reading. In terms of hobbies, I plan to get back into tennis after I complete my hydroponic garden.
Have you learned anything especially great in the last year?
Did you know that we change the spin direction of hydrogen atoms during liquefaction to store the product in a lower energy state?