Electric revolution
charges ahead

A shared passion for innovative power electronic systems, great design and sustainability led three UQ alumni to start world-leading technologies company Tritium.

The Brisbane-based company is building a reputation to rival electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla, and is supporting the global adoption of electric vehicles through their pioneering technologies.

Founders Dr David Finn (Bachelor of Engineering ’00, Bachelor of Science ’00, Doctor of Philosophy ’05), Dr Paul Sernia (Bachelor of Engineering ’00, Bachelor of Science ’00, Doctor of Philosophy ’06) and James Kennedy (Bachelor of Engineering ’00) (pictured) launched Tritium after meeting at university, while they were members of the UQ SunShark solar car racing team in 1998.

Tritium founders and UQ alumni Dr David Finn, Dr Paul Sernia and James Kennedy.

Tritium founders and UQ alumni Dr David Finn, Dr Paul Sernia and James Kennedy.

Each year, SunShark would take part in the World Solar Challenge – a competition that attracted many of the world’s premier car manufacturers with multimillion-dollar budgets, as well as university and independent teams. The competition spurred the 1999 SunShark team to set ambitious goals and continually improve the design of the car so that it was lighter, more efficient, and took full advantage of new component technology.

Finn said the project demonstrated how smart, innovative ideas and good management could defeat big budgets.

“One year after building SunShark, we decided to commercialise the unique know-how we had gained through solar car racing, and we founded Tritium,” Finn said.

“Today, Tritium has developed a portfolio of world-leading technologies that have been used in numerous solar car, electric vehicle and renewable energy projects globally.”

The trio has been working with UQ to help kick-start the electric vehicle revolution in Queensland by installing four solar-powered EV chargers at the St Lucia and Gatton campuses in April this year.

Watch a video about how UQ is embracing the future of sustainable transport.

The solar-powered chargers will be powered by UQ’s existing solar photovoltaic systems.

The installation of this charging infrastructure is a milestone for the development of sustainable transport in Queensland, and a testament to UQ’s commitment to broader sustainability within the community.

The 50-kilowatt Veefil DC fast charger at Gatton is a first for the state, providing a range of up to 70 kilometres for 15 minutes of charging.

This is 10 times faster than traditional charging options, allowing easy intercity electric vehicle travel between Brisbane and Toowoomba.

In the first three months of operation, the UQ charging stations have had more than 100 users, and have delivered enough energy to drive more than 9000 kilometres.

“We’ve installed hundreds of our chargers in North America and in other parts of the world, but it is great to see more going in where it all began,” Finn said.

Recent investment by the Queensland Government in Tritium will enable the introduction of a higher-power 150-kilowatt charging product to market.

“At 150 kilowatts, it will be possible to charge a vehicle with a 300-kilometre range in 20 minutes, so now you can think about driving from Brisbane to Sydney with three stops in an electric vehicle, which is fairly transformational."

Dr David Finn

Tritium’s current focus is to expand the public charging infrastructure available to drivers, encouraging the wider adoption of electric vehicles across Australia.

“Anywhere you can park, you should be able to charge. That’s the ultimate goal,” Finn said.

Finn said we should expect to see a steep increase of EVs on Australian roads in the next 10 years, with government incentives expected to shift in favour of EV-drivers and an anticipated drop in the cost of the cars to lower than that of a petrol vehicle.

“Couple the financial benefits with the social imperative of purchasing an EV at the same price as a petrol car and we’ll see an acceleration of EV use,” he said.

To learn more about Tritium, visit tritium.com.au.