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BREAKING: Deutsche Bahn signs an agreement with Fortescue Future Industries to collaborate on clean technology to replace conventional diesel engines

BREAKING: Deutsche Bahn signs an agreement with Fortescue Future Industries to collaborate on clean technology to replace conventional diesel engines
photo: Deutsche Bahn/BREAKING: Deutsche Bahn signs an agreement with Fortescue Future Industries to collaborate on clean technology to replace conventional diesel engines
06 / 10 / 2022

Today, on October 5, Australian energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and Germany's Deutsche Bahn announced the signing of an agreement aimed at cooperation in the rail transport field.

Having serious climate goals, the companies aim to replace diesel fuel with environmentally friendly types and solutions as soon as possible, thus reducing emissions to zero. Accordingly, FFI and DB's research will profile ammonia and hydrogen-based fuels.

FFI will participate in DB's activities aimed at researching a carbon-free internal combustion engine, which in turn will be able to accelerate FFI's Green Fleet rail program.

Fortescue founder and Executive Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said, "Fortescue is developing green hydrogen and green energy innovations and technology, with a specific focus on decarbonising hard-to-abate industries. We know that cutting-edge technology and real-world solutions are key to addressing climate change which is why Fortescue is partnering with Deutsche Bahn, Europe's leading mobility and logistics provider. Together, FFI and DB will work to reduce global emissions given the urgency to find new ways to replace fossil fuels in the transport industry."

DB Board Member for Digitisation and Technology Dr Daniela Gerd tom Markotten said, "We are saying goodbye to diesel and relying on the latest technologies, including the ammonia-hydrogen engine."

The ammonia-hydrogen engine is based on an existing type of diesel engine. It is modified so that it can run on green ammonia and green hydrogen. The advantage over a pure hydrogen engine is that ammonia has a higher energy density than liquid hydrogen and is easier to transport and store.

"This engine makes it possible to continue operating existing diesel vehicles without emissions. Our customers are already travelling by the most climate-friendly means of transport. By 2040, the railway will be completely climate-neutral," adds Dr Daniela Gerd tom Markotten.

Dr Sigrid Nikutta, DB Board Member for Cargo: „Climate-neutral mobility starts with green supply chains on the railways. Today we can already transport hydrogen in liquid form in conventional tank wagons. This is efficient and uncomplicated. Our goal is to develop further logistics solutions for hydrogen because rail is the most climate-friendly form of transport. One train can replace 52 trucks.“

According to the official press release of Deutsche Bahn, the key technology of the ammonia-hydrogen engine is the so-called cracker from the Stuttgart company Ammonigy. This cracker splits a small part of the ammonia outside the engine into hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen thus obtained is then mixed with the remaining ammonia as an ignition gas and ensures carbon-free combustion. The prototype engine is currently being tested on the engine test bench. Together with FFI, DB continues to develop this technology, including endurance tests and emissions measurements. In total, both companies are investing a six-figure sum in the development project.

The cooperation also focuses on the potential of "green" hydrogen and ammonia supply chains, i.e. the production, transport and distribution of both energy carriers. FFI wants to produce hydrogen in large quantities and distribute it worldwide in the form of green ammonia. DB is currently testing a variety of solutions for the use of hydrogen and could be a customer with a large demand of its own. At the same time, DB's subsidiary DB Cargo is currently developing efficient and environmentally friendly logistics concepts that will enable hydrogen and its derivatives, such as ammonia, to be used in industry.

In turn, this is not the first time that FFI has taken decisive steps toward decarbonisation. Thus, relatively recently, the company announced its strategy in this direction at the UN General Assembly. The strategy is to abandon the use of fossil fuels and achieve real zero emissions (Scope 1 and 2) at all FFI iron ore enterprises by 2030.

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