To advance its decarbonization efforts and reduce emissions, Vale has ordered three Wabtec FLXdrive locomotives. The locomotives are 100% battery-powered and operate on an energy management system, called the Powershift Program, which recharges the batteries as the train brakes.
“It’s what we call regenerative energy produced by dynamic braking. In the downhill sections, in particular, we will be able to recharge the batteries without having to stop the train’s operation,” explains Alexandre Silva, Vale’s Powershift Program Manager.
The FLXdrive locomotives save 25 million liters of diesel every year and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 63,000 tons. This equates to taking 14,000 cars off the road for an entire year. Vale will use these locomotives to replace two of their four “dynamic helper” locomotives currently pulling a 45,000-ton iron ore train on the Carajás Railroad.
Vale and Wabtec will also conduct a two-year-long study to test the feasibility of ammonia as a clean alternative to diesel fuel. Ammonia does not emit carbon dioxide, has a large-scale distribution infrastructure, and would provide locomotives with a longer range than other carbon-free fuels.
“Initially, we are maximizing energy efficiency, replacing diesel locomotives in the dynamic helper with battery ones, but the idea is that, in the future, the other locomotives on the train can be fueled by ammonia,” explains Ludmila Nascimento, Vale’s Director of Energy. “This agreement is the first of many that we are seeking in order to accelerate the decarbonization of our railway operation.”