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

Seattle engineering company First Mode 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.

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.

It’s part of a three-year, $13.5 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.