Carnegie Mellon University

Thomas Healy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hyliion

Driving a Future Without Truck Pollution

A transportation industry revolution is underway, and Thomas Healy (ENG 2014) is in the driver’s seat.

As founder and chief executive officer of Hyliion, he’s building electrified powertrains for semi-trucks to decrease pollution from gas emissions, reduce reliance on carbon-intensive fuels and make shipping goods cheaper on a global scale.

When most people think of electrical vehicles, their minds go to commercial plugin models. However, Thomas quickly discovered that this concept isn’t always practical because a pair of large trucks plugged into the power grid to recharge can consume more energy than a manufacturing plant. Instead, he refined an approach to use renewable natural gas or hydrogen to fuel an on-board generator. Energy from the fuel is converted into electricity as you drive and stored in a battery, and this capacity, combined with regenerative braking, provides 1,000 miles of driving range after just 10 minutes of refueling.

“Today, we’ve deployed electric systems with millions of miles,” Thomas says. “We have partnered with large fleets in the United States and internationally that have extremely strong interest in being the first to experience the emissions benefits and the cost benefits that come with our products.”

Hyliion is now a publicly traded company and came to market with more than a $1 billion valuation, so Thomas is one of the very few and very first CMU alums who've founded a unicorn startup. And that’s ahead of major product launches that will bring the full potential of this powertrain technology to market as a standard option in all trucks.

“The immediate impact is that we shift this industry to cleaner technologies, as transportation is the No. 1 greenhouse gas polluter,” Thomas says. “If every truck going down the road is an electric truck, our goal is a clean planet with cities that have a lot less smog and a lot less emissions. And that’s the long-term vision.”

Story by Elizabeth Speed