On a sunny day in the hills above Livermore, CA I joined the Earthgrid team, a company Interlock Capital recently invested in, and other interested investors to see a live demonstration of their plasma tunneling technology.
CEO Troy Helming is an inspiring sustainability tech leader and we wanted to see the progress firsthand.
Everyone assembled in a nearby officer for the safety briefing and then we put on eye and ear protection.
We headed out to the test area to see a large excavator with an Earthgrid plasma burner at the end. First we were offered a sledge hammer to swing at the rock that's about to be vaporized. A few swings and immediate bounce of the head of the rock with no chips.
It's show time.
We are all at the ready with out phones recording and the flames shoots out and gets louder and bigger. And the basalt rock is instantly breaking apart, spraying bits into the air. We try not to look directly at the plasma as it's like a welding arc, but it's hard to look away.
As I watch the rock melt away into literal lava, I marvel at all the possibilities of bringing this heat to many other materials. We are shown the tech behind scenes of the water pumps and heat exchanger to keep the burner cool through a water jacket. It's all contained in an 18 wheeler trailer and easy to see how mobile this operation will be.
The cherry on top is meeting a hero of mine, Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters who was also in attendance to see how Earthgrid could be applied for a venture he in working on.
Congrats Earthgrid on a successful demo and advancing the tech into real application!