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US Gave Breakthrough Vanadium Battery Tech to China – NPR

$15 million worth of public money was spent developing a battery that could power a house for three decades, but the tech ended up going to China, where backers were easier to find

The technology behind a 'breakthrough' US vanadium redox battery has 'given' to China, a new report reveals.
Engineers check a vanadium redox battery in Europe. Similar technology developed by US researchers is now being used to build such batteries in China, where it was much easier to find backers, than in the US. VRB company photo.


An American scientific breakthrough – a vanadium redox flow battery, designed initially in a US government lab, then developed by a company over many years in Washington State – struggled to find backers in the United States, so the technology ended up being given, under license, to a manufacturer in China in 2021 by the US Department of Energy, an NPR investigation has found.

$15 million worth of taxpayers money was spent developing a battery the size of a fridge that could power a house for three decades, according to the report, which said all American employees at UniEnergy Technologies employees were laid off, and the battery developed in 5,200 miles away in the Chinese city of Dalian, after the US federal agency violated its own rules aimed at protecting technology and jobs. Another company in the US trying to get the same technology says the department’s decision – now being reviewed – was “mind-boggling”, the report added.

Read the full report: NPR.





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Alfie Habershon

Alfie is a Reporter at Asia Financial. He previously lived in Mumbai reporting on India's economy and healthcare for data journalism initiative IndiaSpend, as well as having worked for London based Tortoise Media.


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