The world’s first "Infinity Train" can recharge itself. With gravity?

Behold the Infinity Train. It's simple, yet brilliant.
Derya Ozdemir
Fortescue's mine at Eliwana, Western Australia.Fortescue Metals Group  

The race to decarbonize all industries is on. 

Australian mining company Fortescue and Fortescue Future Industries, which has acquired U.K.-based Williams Advanced Engineering, are joining forces to develop the world’s first Infinity Train: a battery-electric vehicle designed to transport loads of iron ore without ever needing to be charged.

How does it work?

The train will use the gravitational energy created on the downhill loaded sections of the iron or giant’s rail network to recharge its battery power systems, eliminating the need for additional charging on the return trip to reload.

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"The Infinity Train has the capacity to be the world’s most efficient battery electric locomotive," said Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines. "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 Infinity Train will eliminate the requirement for renewable energy generation and charging infrastructure. According to Gaines, this will make it a capital-efficient solution for removing diesel and pollutants from Fortescue's rail operations.

On the road to net-zero

The two companies will continue collaborating to combat climate change by developing new, greener technologies by focusing on high-performance battery and electrification systems. After all, high-performance battery and electricity systems are vital to their operations. Fortescue has also previously stated that it intends to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

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"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," said Dr. Andrew Forrest, Fortescue Founder and Chairman.

When it is completed, the Infinity Train will join Fortescue’s green fleet, which is also in the works at the moment with hydrogen fuel cell mining trucks and ammonia-fueled trains. The company is also collaborating with MMA Offshore to convert a 246-feet vessel, the "MMA Leveque", so that it can run almost entirely on green ammonia by 2022.

Details are scarce at the moment, and only time will tell whether this brilliant solution will be limited to a single use case or can be scaled up to a larger market.