This Train Can Recharge Itself Using Gravity

The transportation industry shows that, yet again, it can be a leader in a decarbonized future.

This Train Can Recharge Itself Using Gravity

An Australian company recently announced their plans for a gravity-powered train that is expected to be built within two years at the heavy price point of roughly $50 million. Fortescue Future Industries is the mastermind behind this project and has combined forces with their recent acquisition, U.K.-based Williams Advanced Engineering, to help accomplish the mind-blowing Infinity Train.

How Is This Possible?

The train will work by generating energy on downhill sections of the trip that can effectively recharge the electric battery and therefore not require battery fill-up at the end of the journey. "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," says Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines.

Because the train, dubbed the Infinity Train, won't need to have energy regeneration, the company's railway infrastructure will be operating at a much smaller footprint, making travel by train even more eco-friendly than, possibly, ever before.

There is no word about what materials the train will be comprised of, though considering the company has a clear path for efficiency, we can assume that the materials used will include ones with a lowered environmental footprint.

This train will eventually join the company's green fleet, a set of automotive transport options that output fewer emissions than their traditional counterparts. The company is also looking to streamline its current fleet of 54 operational locomotives to help them meet its goals of net zero emissions by 2030.

Fortescue founder, Andrew Forrest, weighed in on the recent announcement, stating that "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."

This announcement comes at a time when companies around the world are working to lower their environmental footprint and keep global emissions below the 1.5°C as stated in the Paris Agreement. These efforts can ultimately help create a chain reaction of change throughout the many other sectors due to competitor advantage.

A Greener Option

In the transportation industry, a slew of changes has already happened. From the rise of electric vehicles to sustainable aviation fuels, transport has seen a noteworthy shift over the past few decades.

The locomotive sector has also gained notable advancements to further improve its already known lower environmental footprint compared to air travel.

Although trains don't seem as prevalent throughout the United States, the country is home to some of the most extensive rail networks globally. Likewise, trains are a staple in many European and Asian countries as a way to provide a cheap, quick, and efficient form of travel. Perhaps a more notable country for trains is Japan, which is home to some of the most advanced locomotives in the world.

In Australia, where Fortescue will be building its Infinity Train, the country will soon have another alternative travel method that can help continue pushing for electrification of the sector. Though the word hasn't been released as to whether it will be a passenger rail or a freight rail, we can assume that its technology will be somewhat interchangeable, providing room for improved transportation for the local Australians.

On a global scale, the Infinity Train has the ability to significantly influence other industry players to implement similar designs and reduce company-wide emissions, ultimately creating a wave of change.

"The Infinity Train has the capacity to be the world's most efficient battery electric locomotive."


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