Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) wholly-owned subsidiary VSPC has secured a $1.6 million federal government grant to advance a $5 million battery development program focused on developing fast-charging lithium-ion batteries for trams.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), University of Queensland (UQ) and Soluna Australia will work with VSPC on the $5 million government Co-operative Research Centres Projects program.
Under the grant, VSPC will receive $1.6 million for its participation, with CSIRO, UQ and Soluna to contribute in kind.
The program involves developing fast-charge lithium-ion batteries with VSPC’s cathode material for use in new-generation trams.
It is expected the new battery-powered trams will eradicate the need for overhead powerlines, which can be expensive, potentially hazardous and an eyesore.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity to combine VSPC’s battery-materials technology with some of the world’s leading research,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“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,” he added.
According to Lithium Australia, the CSIRO already has experience and intellectual property regarding fast-charge batteries for trams as well as e-buses, ferries and military applications.
As part of the program, VSPC will work with battery researchers at CSIRO’s Clayton site in Victoria to design, manufacture and test the battery prototypes.
CSIRO principal research scientist Adam Best noted that the organisation has been working with lithium-ion batteries for more than 15 years.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Lianzhou Wang will head up the UQ team from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology.
The UQ team will assist VSPC with characterisation and optimisation of its battery materials.
Soluna’s contribution will be to advise on manufacturing and lead commercialisation of any fast-charge battery products developed.
VSPC’s executive director Mike Vaisey said the battery development project is a “tremendous opportunity” to bring together Australia’s technological capabilities.