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Fortescue battery-electric train next stop: Infinity and beyond

Infinity Train

Fortescue Metals Group has commenced the development of a regenerating battery-electric iron ore train project, the Infinity Train, with its newly acquired company Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).

In a world-first development, the Infinity Train will utilise the gravitational energy generated on the downhill loaded sections of Fortescue’s rail network to recharge its battery-electric systems, without any additional charging requirements for the return trip to reload.

The development of the project aims to support the delivery of Fortescue’s industry-leading target to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030.

“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,” 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.”

The self-sustaining system will increase operational efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and eliminate diesel and the associated CO2 emissions from Fortescue’s iron ore trains.

Fortescue’s current rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in the 2021 financial year, 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, significantly contributing to Fortescue’s target to be diesel-free by 2030.

UK-based WAE will remain a strongly independent company to accelerate its growth, while its leading industrial battery technology division will be closely coordinated with Fortescue, both to be managed by Fortescue Future Industries (FFI).

“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, providing great value for our shareholders,” Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said.

“The commercial opportunities for FFI as it pioneers this technology, captures its value and distributes it globally are obvious. Less obvious, but just as important, is that we lower our operating costs, eliminate the cost of diesel from our company and of course, our carbon emissions.

“The Infinity Train continues FFI’s inexorable march to change the world’s attitude to energy generation. To move business leaders and politicians globally to the realisation that fossil fuel is just one source of energy and there are others rapidly emerging, which are more efficient, lower cost and green.

“The world must, and clearly can, move on from its highly polluting, deadly if not stopped epoch of fossil fuel.”

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