VSPC, a subsidiary of Lithium Australia, has been awarded a Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant to develop batteries to power trams.

VSPC will work with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Queensland (UQ) and Soluna Australia to develop advanced cathode materials and fast-charge lithium-ion (‘Li-ion’) batteries for use in new-generation trams. 

The battery-powered trams will eliminate the need for overhead power lines, reducing cost, as well as visual pollution and associated hazards.

As part of CRC-P Round 8, VSPC will receive a grant totalling $1.6 million for its participation. CSIRO, UQ and Soluna will provide contributions in-kind.

VSPC Executive Director, Mike Vaisey, said, “This project is a tremendous opportunity to bring together Australia’s technological capabilities – including VSPC’s advanced cathode materials, CSIRO’s battery expertise and UQ’s analytical abilities – to develop new battery systems using VSPC cathode material.

“Light rail is experiencing a resurgence worldwide as cities modernise, and fast-charge batteries are critical to avoiding the poles and wires of the past.”

As well as expertise in the design of Li-ion batteries, CSIRO already has specific experience and intellectual property relating to fast-charge batteries for application in trams and other forms of transport (such as e-buses, ferries and military applications).

CSIRO principal research scientist, Adam Best, said, “CSIRO has over 35 years’ experience with batteries, and more than 15 years of working in the lithium battery field. 

“We’re excited to be applying our significant capabilities and expertise to this project, in conjunction with VSPC and UQ, for the design, manufacture and testing of next-generation fast-charge batteries that incorporate VSPC’s advanced cathode materials.”

VSPC will partner with battery researchers at CSIRO’s Clayton site in Victoria to design, manufacture and test fast-charge Li-ion battery prototypes.

The UQ team at the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology – led by Professor Lianzhou Wang from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology – has extensive capabilities with respect to the analysis of advanced materials. 

VSPC will work with the UQ team on both the characterisation and optimisation of VSPC’s battery materials.

Soluna, meanwhile, will advise on manufacturing and also lead commercialisation of the fast-charge battery products developed.

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