US-funded breakthrough battery tech just simply handed over to China – By Brandon Vigliarolo (The Register) / Aug 4, 2022
Licencing snafu sends American invention overseas
When US national laboratories develop a new technology, Uncle Sam is supposed to ensure it is commercialized in America. But that’s not what happened with what’s said to be a breakthrough battery design.
A vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) design created at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has wound up in the hands of a Chinese company, which has since gone on to become the largest manufacturer of VRFBs in the world. The US, which owns the patent and invested $15 million of taxpayer dollars into its development, reportedly has no domestic production site for the novel VRFBs.
That’s not to say that VRFBs aren’t manufactured in the US – some companies do make them – but the PNNL battery design is different.
Over the course of six years, PNNL scientists developed a special mix of acid and electrolytes that they claim is twice as powerful as other vanadium-based batteries, doesn’t degrade like other batteries, and can be infinitely discharged and recharged for as long as 30 years. The refrigerator-sized batteries could be installed in homes hooked up to solar panels and reduce demand on the power grid.