Will Chinese submarines soon be equipped with lithium-ion batteries?

The lithium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Will Chinese submarines soon be equipped with lithium-ion batteries?

The lithium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery, commonly used for portable electronics, for electric vehicles, in industrial, military and aerospace applications. The invention is due to the important advances in the field made since the seventies and eighties by John Goodenough, Robert Huggins, Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Akira Yoshino, advances that in 1991 allowed Sony and Asahi Kasei to commercialize this type of battery.

Goodenough, Whittingham and Yoshino received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries in 2019. Lithium-ion batteries use a compound of lithium on the cathode and graphite or lithium titanate on the anode.

These batteries have a high energy density, a poor memory effect and low self-discharge; however, they can be a safety hazard as they contain a flammable electrolyte and if damaged or incorrectly charged can cause explosions and fires.

The Chinese navy, especially with a possible co-contract with Taiwan on the horizon, can only rely on 6 modern Shang and Shang-G class 09-III nuclear attack submarines. If the forty modern conventional attack submarines of the Song and Yuan classes, as well as the ten submarines Kilo and Improved Kilo, in service within the Chinese fleets, offer far from negligible performance, these ships suffer from a low autonomy.

and underwater energy capability to carry out interdiction missions on the high seas, such as would be needed to keep the Allied fleet and its cohort of nuclear-powered escort attack submarines perfectly suited to their mission at bay.

A new technology inherited from the Chinese auto industry could soon be a game changer According to the Hong Kong site, the Chinese Navy may soon begin installing lithium-ion batteries aboard its conventional-powered submarines, instead of traditional lithium-ion batteries.

lead used for nearly a century aboard submarines. For this, the Chinese general staff intends to rely on the progress made in this area by the Chinese auto industry, which has become the world leader in electric cars, and with advanced expertise in lithium-ion batteries.

Initially developed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, lithium-ion batteries have since conquered the electric car market. They offer greater charging capacities, but also shorter charging times and a much higher peak power than traditional batteries, all critical resources for submarines.