Fortescue iron-ore train

Gravity-charging battery train to be developed for Australian mining firm

Image credit: Fortescue Metals Group

Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) is to work with its new owner, Australian mining group Fortescue, to develop a zero-emission ‘Infinity Train’.

The regenerating battery-electric iron-ore train will use gravitational energy to recharge its battery electric systems without any additional charging requirements for the return trip to reload.

Fortescue has significant iron-ore mining operations in Western Australia. The company says the jointly developed technology will reduce emissions in the hard-to-abate heavy industry sector and that there will be significant opportunities to commercialise it globally.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines explained: “The Infinity Train is an important project to be developed together with WAE, as we work to deliver on our target to decarbonise our mining operations by 2030.

“The Infinity Train has the capacity to be the world’s most efficient battery electric locomotive. The regeneration of electricity on the downhill loaded sections will remove the need for the installation of renewable energy generation and recharging infrastructure, making it a capital-efficient solution for eliminating diesel and emissions from our rail operations.”

WAE chief executive officer Craig Wilson added: “High-performance battery and electrification systems are at the core of what we do and now that we are part of the Fortescue family, this presents an exciting opportunity to develop new technologies as we work together to tackle climate change.”

Oxfordshire-based WAE was founded in 2010 as a division of Williams Grand Prix Engineering. In 2019, a majority stake was sold to EMK Capital and the firm’s purchase by Fortescue Metals Group was announced in January this year, completing on 1 March.

WAE will remain an independent company, while its highly regarded battery technology division will be closely coordinated with Fortescue. Both will be managed by Fortescue’s green energy, technology and development company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI).

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