The U.S. Department of Energy illegally gave China $15 million in taxpayer-funded, groundbreaking technology for a powerful rechargeable battery used for grid energy storage.
It took six years and more than $15 million from taxpayers to develop a vanadium redox flow battery that scientists thought could power a house and could be charged and recharged for up to 30 years, according to an investigation by NPR and the Northwest News Network.
But the DOE gave the technology to the Chinese in 2017 as part of a sublicence, and in 2021 as part of a license transfer.
UniEnergy Technologies’ engineers were building off work that a team of scientists had done in a government lab in Washington State in 2006, costing $15 million.
But the company was forced to shutter, and the batteries are now manufactured by a company in Dalian, China.
Another company, Forever Energy, had been trying unsuccessfully to get a license to manufacture the batteries, being put off by the DOE for more than a year, NPR reported.
“The federal agency allowed the technology and jobs to move overseas, violating its own licensing rules while failing to intervene on behalf of U.S. workers in multiple instances,” NPR reported.
The DOE didn’t explain why it allowed this to happen and is doing an internal review of vanadium battery technology licensing and whether that license has violated American manufacturing requirements.
Now, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have demanded answers from DOE Inspector General Teri Donaldson, who has agreed to conduct a full investigation into the matter.
While the DOE says it ended the contract after NPR asked questions about the Chinese license, the lawmakers want assurance that it never happens again.
The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com. This article originally appeared in RealClearPolicy.