UQ’s partnership aims to bring next-gen battery-powered trams

SOURCE: Paul Volkmer/Unsplash
The Australian government is funding a project that aims to develop fast-charging lithium-ion batteries for use in new-generation trams.

By U2B Staff 

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The University of Queensland and partners, nanotechnology company, VSPC Ltd., the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and Soluna Australia aim to develop fast-charging lithium-ion batteries for use in new-generation battery-powered trams in Australian government-funded programme.

UQ, CSIRO, Soluna and VSPC Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia will collaborate in the government-funded Co-operative Research Centres Projects programme.  This partnership secured a $1.6 million federal government grant to advance a $5 million battery development project.

The development of battery-powered trams will eliminate the need for overhead power lines, which are expensive, visually polluting and potentially hazardous.


Lithium Australia’s managing director, Adrian Griffin said, “This is an unparalleled opportunity to combine VSPC Ltd.’s battery-materials technology with some of the world’s leading research,”

Griffin added that it is VSPC Ltd.’s aim to deliver an Australian product that puts this country at the forefront of battery development. The company hopes to expand the use of batteries to a host of other fast-charge applications.

VSPC Ltd.’s executive director, Mike Vaisey said that this project is a great opportunity to bring together Australia’s technological capabilities. It combines VSPC’s advanced cathode materials, CSIRO’s battery expertise, and UQ’s analytical abilities to develop new battery-powered systems using VSPC Ltd. cathode material.

Vaisey also added that light rail is becoming popular again in modern cities around the world. It is therefore vital that new technologies rise to meet this need, and that can be achieved through the development of fast-charge batteries which will negate the need for traditional infrastructures such as poles and wires.


VSPC Ltd. and UQ’s scope of collaboration will cover both the characterisation and optimisation of its battery materials.

UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology Professor, Lianzhou Wang will head up the UQ team to assist VSPC with characterisation and optimisation of its battery materials.

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

CSIRO has significant experience and intellectual property relating to fast-charge batteries for various applications. The organisation has explored the usage of batteries in trams and other forms of transport such as e-buses, ferries and in military applications.



CSIRO principal research scientist Adam Best highlighted that the organisation has been working with lithium-ion batteries for more than 15 years.

Best expressed excitement as this collaboration will enable CSIRO to apply its capabilities and expertise to design, manufacture and test next-generation fast-charge batteries that incorporate VSPC Ltd.’s advanced cathode materials.

Soluna Australia is a provider of fully integrated battery storage systems and battery packs to solar and renewable energy sector in Australia. The company will provide advise manufacturing and lead commercialisation of any fast-charge battery products developed through this research partnership.