Wabtec has sold the world’s first 100% battery-operated heavy haul locomotive, its FLXdrive battery-electric unit, to Roy Hill in Australia to serve on its rail operations between the mine and Port Hedland.
The locomotive, a first for the mining industry, is expected to reduce the operator’s fuel costs, and also emissions by double digits per train.
Wabtec said the FLXdrive locomotive will be the first for both the region and for the mining industry.
Roy Hill will take deliver of the newest version of the FLXdrive in 2023; it will have an energy capacity of 7 megawatt hours (MWh). Wabtec noted that is an upgrade from the 2.4-MWh prototype that it successfully tested in revenue service with a Class 1 railroad in the United States earlier this year.
“We are committed to transforming the next generation of transportation by adopting advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency, lower operating costs and improve our rail and mining network,” said Gerhard Veldsman, CEO of Roy Hill.
Added Simon Pascoe, General Manager of Engineering for Roy Hill: “Our analysis with Wabtec confirms the FLXdrive locomotive is ideally suited for our rail network. It has the horsepower to operate in a heavy haul train consist pulling loaded wagons with 35,000 tonnes of iron ore, while at the same time reducing the entire train’s fuel consumption. The FLXdrive also is designed to function in the extreme heat of the Pilbara region.”
Roy Hill currently uses four Wabtec ES44ACi Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains that are typically 2,700 meters (1.6 miles) in length. FLXdrive will replace one of the diesel locomotives to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking.
Wabtec’s goal, it said, is to develop the next generation of zero-emission locomotives. It is seeking to enable the reduction of up to 300 million tons of global carbon emissions.
The Roy Hill iron ore operation is the largest single ore mine in Australia.