Wabtec Corporation announced an order from BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) for two FLXdrive battery locomotives (earlier post). The deal builds momentum in the market for the world’s first 100%, battery-powered locomotive and supports the Australia-based natural resource company’s plan to decarbonize its rail network.
Earlier this month, Rio Tinto announced that it purchase four 7MWh FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives from Wabtec Corporation for use in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as part of the company’s strategy to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. (Earlier post.)
The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive represents the future of sustainable rail operations. The rail and mining industries are on the cusp of technological advancements to equip customers with zero-emission locomotive fleets. The FLXdrive is a major step toward eventually achieving that vision. It will provide BHP with the tractive effort, fuel savings, emissions reductions and reliability to cost effectively run their rail operations.—Rogerio Mendonca, President of Freight Equipment for Wabtec
BHP will receive the newest version of the FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives in 2023 with an energy capacity of 7 megawatt hours (MWh). Based on the topography of the route and BHP’s rail operations, the FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions in percentage by double digits per train.
BHP currently uses four diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains comprising approximately 270 cars carrying 38,000 tons of iron ore. The FLXdrives will join the diesel locomotives to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking. Wabtec’s next generation energy-management system will determine the optimal times to discharge and recharge the batteries along the route ensuring the most fuel-efficient operation of the entire locomotive consist during the trip.