Rail freight maker Wabtec Corporation has officially unveiled the latest version of what it calls “the world’s first battery-powered electric freight train.” The electric train, known as the FLXdrive Battery Locomotive, is no longer just a prototype and made its official debut in Pittsburgh, PA, after the locomotive was first sold by Wabtec earlier this week.
Wabtec Corporation is a manufacturer and freight company with over 150 years of experience in the rail industry. Looking ahead, the company had the foresight to help usher in a new era of low-carbon locomotive transport.
As we reported in June, Wabtec was in the middle of a pilot program in California with its FLXdrive – a battery-powered electric locomotive capable of carrying 430,000 pounds.
The battery-powered electric train was developed with a $ 22.6 million grant from the California Air Resource Board that was awarded to Wabtec, the BNSF Railway, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The prototype locomotive provided 22.5 tonnes of power capacity (2.4 MWh) from more than 20,000 lithium-ion battery cells. As a result, the FLX prototype could reach speeds of around 75 mph and travel 350 miles.
In addition to its pilot program, Wabtec also announced a collaboration with General Motors (GM) as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop and implement GM’s Ultium battery technology in Wabtec freight locomotives.
More recently, Wabtec sold its very first FLXdrive electric train and has now unveiled its latest version in Pennsylvania.
Wabtec unveils FLXdrive electric train at event in Pittsburgh
According to a report by The Guardian, Wabtec unveiled its FLXdrive locomotive at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as part of a new venture between the two organizations. Wabtec describes its FLXdrive as “the world’s first battery-electric freight train”.
The event brought together Democrats in Congress, who used Wabtec’s latest electric train as an example of what rail transport can achieve in an effort to eliminate carbon emissions.
This included calls for $ 600 million in the recent congressional reconciliation bill to be spent on a freight rail innovation institute to focus on removing emissions from the rail sector. Raphael Santana, CEO of Wabtec, spoke at the event:
A bolder, cleaner and more efficient transport system is within reach. This is just the beginning.
The news comes just days after Wabtec announced that Roy Hill in Western Australia had purchased the first FLXdrive locomotive to support mining.
Wabtec predicts that Roy Hill will receive the latest version of its FLXdrive locomotive in 2023 with an energy capacity of 7 MWh, a huge improvement over the 2.4 MWh previously mentioned on the prototype.
Power capacity aside, the battery system in the new version of the electric train uses the kinetic energy of its own braking to recharge, allowing the vehicle to regain range that would normally be lost in the form of excess fuel. heat.
With an order in hand, Wabtec’s goal is to continue developing the next generation of zero-emission locomotives while hoping the global rail industry will adapt soon.
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