Australian group awarded funding for tram batteries

A consortium of Australian businesses and research institutions will investigate the production of fast charging batteries for trams.

The group, comprised of the University of Queensland, CSIRO, battery manufacturer Soluna Australia, and nanotechnology company VSPC, will leverage a $1,641,000 grant from the federal CRC-P program to invest $5million in batteries which could remove the need for overhead powerlines to power trams.

The batteries developed will be fast-charge lithium-ion batteries. VSPC will develop advanced cathode materials, while CSIRO brings expertise and intellectual property for the application of fast-charge batteries in trams and other vehicles such as buses, ferries, and military vehicles.

The team from the University of Queensland Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology will contribute to the characterisation and optimisation of the battery materials. Soluna will then advise on manufacturing and lead commercialisation of the product.

Mike Vaisey, VSPC executive director, said the project could tap into the popularity of light rail.

“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 fastcharge batteries are critical to avoiding the poles and wires of the past.”

Once successful, Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said that the Australian-developed technology could be other in other transport forms.

“The aim is to deliver an Australian product that puts this country at the forefront of battery development … and there’s more to it than trams; successful application of what is currently at our fingertips will lead to myriad other fast-charge applications, many of them not yet thought of.”