China is experimenting with a lithium-ion battery propulsion system for submarines and aims to achieve results within the next five years, according to a report from Tokyo-based international news magazine the Diplomat.
Lithium-ion batteries offer much higher energy density and longer dive times than conventional diesel-powered submarines, which is why Chinese researchers see them as the “wave of the future,” says Andrew Erickson, a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
The PLA Navy is discussing putting lithium-ion batteries “on a new generation of conventional subs sometime between now and 2020, but there is no indicator as yet of the type of submarine that might be,” Erickson said.
The PLA wants submarines with reactors that are “efficient, long-lasting, reliable and quiet enough,” Erickson said, which is why China has equipped them in their Song- and Yuan-class attack subs. Diesel subs are generally stealthier than nuclear subs because the former are specifically designed to minimize vibration and noise in order to evade sonar detection. However, China also wants their subs to be able to not have to surface in order to charge batteries, which is why longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries could be the solution.
Full article: PLA developing submarines powered by lithium-ion batteries (Want China Times)