An Australian mining company Fortescue is developing a way for its ore trains to produce a net energy surplus. The Infinity Trains project is inspired by a spinoff of a Formula 1 team. Fortescue plans to field these energy-generating Infinity Trains in March by utilizing William Advanced Engineering.
Fortescue rail operation has a fleet of 54 diesel-electric locomotives to date. These locomotives pull 16 trainsets consisting of up to 244 cars containing nearly 38 tons of ore and stretching over 1.7 miles long. Additionally, the company believes that decarbonizing this transit is possible by replacing some of its locomotives with battery-electric units. And the key to this is a positive energy loop.
Furthermore, nowadays, locomotives don’t rely solely on friction brakes but also on dynamic brakes. In addition, in a diesel-powered locomotive, energy burns away in banks of resistors without a battery to store it. Hence, with batteries, Fortescue’s Infinity Trains would capture and keep all the power rather than letting them go to waste.
Moreover, a regenerative braking system is not the only source of net-positive energy. However, Fortescue claims that Infinity Trains will produce a surplus of it because of the way they’re routed. Additionally, these trains will run on a quartet of routes in Pilbara, Australia. Then, the Infinity Trains will depart to their destinations, heading uphill, with a battery charge but no load. And after reaching the top, they’ll load up on ore. The weight of the ore will pull the train downhill with more force than the empty train had to overcome on its way up.
Consequently, the trains will be able to regenerate their energy up to the max. Therefore, generating more energy than the trip back up will require. Thus, the company can use the extra power elsewhere. Lastly, Fortescue plans to put the Infinity Trains in all four routes by 2030, reducing the company’s carbon emissions.
Fortescue’s plan to develop Infinity Trains which use regenerative braking as a source of energy is a novel and innovative idea. Even electric mining trucks are exploring this principle. In any case, it is terrific to see industries come up with out-of-the-box ideas to use major industrial polluters to reduce or possibly eliminate carbon emissions.