Vale and Wabtec have joined forces in a groundbreaking partnership aimed at advancing the decarbonization of rail operations. The ultimate goal is to completely eliminate emissions by utilizing battery power and alternative fuels.
Vale’s FLXdrive Order
As part of this collaboration, Vale will acquire three FLXdrive battery locomotives from Wabtec. In addition, the two companies will explore the feasibility of using ammonia as a clean and sustainable fuel to replace diesel. The three locomotives, powered entirely by batteries, will be deployed on the Carajás Railroad. This railway is responsible for transporting 45,000 tons of iron ore via a train consisting of 330 railcars. The delivery of these cutting-edge locomotives is anticipated to take place in 2026.
Prospects for Clean Operation
Vale’s Director of Energy, Ludmila Nascimento, commented on the initiative, stating, “Initially, we are focusing on maximizing energy efficiency by replacing diesel locomotives with battery-powered ones in the dynamic helper role. However, the long-term vision is to fuel all locomotives on the train with ammonia, thereby achieving a completely clean operation at EFC.” Nascimento further added, “This agreement marks the first of many steps as we strive to accelerate the decarbonization of our railway operation.”
Both Vale and Wabtec will collaborate on conducting a comprehensive study to explore the viability of using ammonia as an alternative fuel. Ammonia stands out due to several advantages, such as its ability to provide locomotives with an extended range compared to other carbon-free fuels. Additionally, ammonia benefits from a high-octane rating and an already established large-scale distribution infrastructure.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
An estimated annual saving of 25 million liters of diesel is projected with the implementation of FLXdrive locomotives. This significant reduction in diesel consumption across all railway trains that utilize the dynamic helper will result in a decrease of approximately 63,000 tons of carbon emissions. To put this into perspective, that’s the equivalent emissions of around 14,000 passenger cars annually.