WAE and Fortescue developing Infinity Train

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WAE and Fortescue are developing Infinity Train, a regenerating battery electric iron ore train project that uses gravitational energy to fully recharge its battery systems.

Infinity Train
(Image: Fortescue)

The announcement on March 1 was made as East Perth, Australia headquartered Fortescue completed its acquisition of UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).

In a statement, Fortescue founder and chairman, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said: “The Infinity Train will not only accelerate Fortescue’s race to reach net zero emissions by 2030, but also lower our operating costs, create maintenance efficiencies and productivity opportunities.

“The Infinity Train will join Fortescue’s green fleet under development and will contribute to Fortescue becoming a major player in the growing global market for green industrial transport equipment.

“The commercial opportunities are obvious for FFI as it pioneers this technology, captures its value and distributes it globally. Less obvious is that we have an opportunity to not only lower our operating costs, eliminate the cost of diesel from our company but of course eliminate our rail system carbon emissions.”

Fortescue Metals Group acquires WAE

Fortescue said its rail operations include 54 operating locomotives that haul 16 train sets, together with other on-track mobile equipment. Each train set is about 2.8km in length and has the capacity to haul 34,404 tonnes of iron ore in 244 ore cars. Fortescue’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in financial year 2021 accounting for 11 per cent of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions. This diesel consumption and associated emissions will be eliminated once the Infinity Train is fully implemented across Fortescue’s operations, thereby contributing to Fortescue’s target to be diesel-free by 2030.

Fortescue’s studies and development costs for the Infinity Train are expected to be $50m over the next two years. The technology, to be jointly developed by Fortescue and WAE, will address the reduction in emissions in the hard to abate heavy industry sector with opportunities for this technology to be commercialised on a global basis.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines said, “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.”

Fortescue Metals Group, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, announced it was acquiring Williams Advanced Engineering in January this year.