Why China Could Dominate the Next Big Advance in Batteries – by Keith Bradsher (New York Times – April 12, 2023)


China is far ahead of the rest of the world in the development of batteries that use sodium, which are starting to compete with ubiquitous lithium power cells.

In Changsha, deep in China’s interior, thousands of chemists, engineers and manufacturing workers are shaping the future of batteries.

The city’s Central South University churns out the graduates who are advancing the technology, much as Stanford University molded the careers of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who pioneered microchips. Across the Xiang River, vast factories mix minerals into the highly processed compounds that make rechargeable batteries possible.

These batteries, mostly made of lithium, have powered the rise of cellphones and other consumer electronics. They are transforming the auto industry and could soon start doing the same for solar panels and wind turbines crucial in the fight against climate change. China dominates their chemical refining and production.

Now China is positioning itself to command the next big innovation in rechargeable batteries: replacing lithium with sodium, a far cheaper and more abundant material. Sodium, found all over the world as part of salt, sells for 1 to 3 percent of the price of lithium and is chemically very similar.

For the rest of this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/12/business/china-sodium-batteries.html