Australian companies, academia working on fast-charge Li-ion batteries for trams

Tram in Melbourne. (Reference image by Hugh Llewelyn, Wikimedia Commons).

Nanotechnology company VSPC, a 100%-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT), together with CSIRO, the University of Queensland and Soluna is taking part in an A$5-million government-funded program to develop fast-charge lithium-ion batteries for use in new-generation trams.

In a press release, Lithium Australia said that battery-powered trams eliminate the need for overhead power lines, which are expensive, visually polluting and potentially hazardous.

VSPC will receive a grant totalling A$1.6 million for its participation in the project

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

In parallel, Lithium Australia’s subsidiary will work with the UQ team on both the characterisation and optimisation of its battery materials.

“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,” VSPC executive director, Mike Vaisey, said in a statement. “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.”