In the Netherlands, we know that trains are good for the environment. Dutch railways run on green energy from wind turbines, and railway companies are now working on alternatives to diesel, even in the sections without overhead wires. Hydrogen or batteries offer a solution.
Fortescue is a mining company that operates mostly in remote parts of Australia. For transportation of excavated products, it has railways with diesel trains. But the mining world also knows it has to become more sustainable. Thus, Fortescue develops sustainable solutions, which it can eventually sell to other companies.
Now there is a plan for an “infinite train”. It is so named because it can drive indefinitely on electricity, with no overhead wires and absolutely no charging. how is that possible? It has two reasons. First, the train will usually have to go up empty and ramp full (with iron ore). This means that when the train goes down, it weighs much more. Since you don’t need any thrust when going down the mountain (gravity is what matters), the battery can be recharged at that time. Energy is also recovered when braking at the final destination.
Overall, this results in enough power to send the empty, lighter buggies up the mountain. Fortescue believes the train can travel back and forth indefinitely this way. It may sound like magic, but the train actually uses gravity cleverly.
Fortescue isn’t the only mining company that wants to go green. For example, there are companies working on electric trucks with giant pallets. Fortescue itself has already announced the launch of a cargo ship powered by ammonia instead of fuel oil. Over time, this ammonia can be made sustainable using green hydrogen.
Just because mining companies are getting greener, doesn’t mean they are greener. Ores extraction is a polluting process that also causes problems for the environment. Recovering more material from hardware (urban mining) can help make mines less polluting. Smaller local mines could offer a solution, too, according to science.
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