Chapter 276: Personal Status Meeting
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Lu Zhou did not expect to see the two other people in the hotel lobby.
One of them looked familiar while the other one was a complete stranger.
Lu Zhou asked Professor Li, “These two are?”
Professor Li was actually quite helpless.
Originally he planned to contact Lu Zhou in a couple of days to inquire about the patent authorization. However, he did not expect to bump into the head of the chemistry department, Dean Li, and his big-name friend.
According to Dean Li, he had been trying to contact Lu Zhou since the morning.
Professor Li remembered that Dean Li had helped him a lot, so Professor Li gave him a favor.
It seemed that he would have to wait until next time to talk about the patent.
“Let me introduce you, this is the leader of our energy-related department, Lu Kaimin…”
“Titles aren’t needed, I came here as myself. Just call me Mr. Lu,” said Mr. Lu as he shook Lu Zhou’s hand. He then smiled and said, “I’ve heard a lot about you, Professor Lu Zhou. You’re even younger than they say you are.”
Lu Zhou was surprised by the enthusiasm of this big name, but this was not unusual for him. He shook hands with him politely.
“You’re too kind, Mr. Lu. Nice to meet you!”
Professor Li said, “This is our head of chemistry department, Dean Li Shuwen.”
It was time for dinner.
The squad found a restaurant near the hotel.
Even though the restaurant was not a high-class restaurant, but the standard was not low either. It served authentic Boston dishes.
During dinner, Lu Zhou learned that Dean Li was here to attend the MRS Conference.
As for why the head of the energy department, Mr. Lu, applied to come was for an academic visit.
During dinner, Lu Zhou, Professor Li, Mr. Lu, and Dean Li started to talk about lithium batteries.
Soon, they started to talk about the problem of the patent.
Mr. Lu said, “So, I heard Professor Lu authorized the negative electrode materials to Umicore?”
Lu Zhou nodded and said, “Yeah, is there a problem?”
“No, professor, I just have a little suggestion. Please don’t misunderstand me,” said Mr. Lu with a smile. He then said with a serious tone, “The thing is that we support your legal rights and interests of the PDMS in China. We hope that no matter what company you choose, you won’t sell the exclusive rights to a foreign company.”
Making such an abrupt request was a helpless move.
China was the world’s largest consumer for electric vehicles. Without the breakthrough of lithium battery technology, it was foreseeable that the domestic lithium battery industry would enter a booming stage.
The positive electrode materials were easy to deal with, the LiMo2 patent had expired a long time ago, so they could use it however they want.
However, the key to lithium battery technology was the anode material, not the cathode material. If the patent of the anode material was in the hands of a foreign company, then it would undoubtedly hinder the development of domestic battery companies.
The reason why Mr. Lu pointed out foreign companies specifically was not because of trade discrimination. The reason was clear in the case of the drug artemether, which had become a classic intellectual property right example. It was even on the website of National Knowledge Bureau.
The technology was created by Chinese people, but the drug patent rights were controlled by foreign companies. This kind of injustice was unacceptable.
Of course, the energy department did not want Lu Zhou to simply license the patent at a low price to domestic companies. After all, the intention of patent law was to protect innovation, let resources flow into the research and development field, and to encourage the society to create wealth through IP rights.
However, in this case, the state hoped that he would be conscious of his technology’s “irreplaceability”, and to avoid giving international companies the tools to monopolize the domestic market.
After all, the existence of the WTO and the deficiencies in relevant domestic laws gave huge power to the domestic anti-monopoly investigation of international capital.
Compared to other departments, this type of in-person conversation was undoubtedly more euphemistic.
Lu Zhou obviously knew what Mr. Lu meant. He had even guessed it back at the hotel lobby.
“You can rest assured that the cooperation between me and Umicore does no involve the Chinese market. As for the patent authorization in China, I’ll authorize all companies intending to produce anode materials at a fair price.”
“Since you put it like this, I am relieved,” said Lu Kaimin with a smile. He then said, “Professor Lu, don’t worry, the country will not let you down!”
Lu Zhou smiled and said with a relaxed tone, “Don’t tell me you came all the way to Boston for this, Mr. Lu. You could have just called me.”
Lu Kaimin shook his head and said, “It’s not just because of this. An unexpected situation happened. Actually, my original purpose of meeting you was to ask you something.”
Lu Zhou said, “What?”
Lu Kaimin said seriously, “In the 13th five-year plan from the Chinese government, the energy department plan was to increase the battery capacity to 500Wh/kg by 2020. But now it seems that with this breakthrough in lithium batteries, this goal can be easily completed. However, the world is improving as well, so we cannot be satisfied. Therefore, I’d like to consult your opinion on the next development strategy.”
Lu Zhou said, “I’m a mathematician. I might not be suitable to give you any advice. You should ask battery engineers for your future country development plan.”
Lu Kaimin insisted and said, “I don’t agree with this. Who said that mathematics professors’ opinions don’t have value? Just like our collider, Mr. Qiu’s opinions are important to the country. We need to integrate everyone’s opinion and wisdom to create a suitable plan. Professor Lu, please enlighten us on the future of lithium batteries.”
But it’s still totally different…
Lu Zhou was a little helpless.
He did not know how to explain to Mr. Lu that although Qiu Chengtong was a mathematician in differential geometry, he was in mathematical physics as well. Qiu Chengtong was basically a scientist. It would not be surprising if Qiu Chengtong won a physics award one day. After all, he was one of the founding fathers of modern string theory.
Furthermore, although Lu Zhou had been titled an “industry benchmark” or “father of computational materials science”, his research was not in the field of lithium batteries. Most of his calculated data only had theoretical value.
Lu Zhou knew that he was far less knowledgeable than battery engineers.
However, Mr. Lu was persistent, and he had to say something, “… Then I’ll just say a few words, don’t take it seriously.”
Lu Zhou thought and said, “In my opinion, the lithium-sulfur battery is a type of lithium battery with good potential. The Li-S theoretical specific heat capacity is 2600Wh/kg. Of course, there are many problems, like the shuttle effect, or the poor electronic conductivity of sulfur.”
Lu Kaimin then asked, “What about lithium-air batteries? Are they reliable?”
Lu Zhou immediately knew what Mr. Lu was thinking.
Preparing in advance on future technology could give them an edge against western countries.
After all, whether it was lithium, sodium, magnesium or the legendary silicon, companies like Sony and Samsung had already laid out patents in advance.
In a situation like this, even if one developed the technology, one would still be bounded by other people’s patents. It would be wise to choose a key research and development direction.
Even then, leaping too forward on research was not advisable…
Especially for something like lithium-air.
Lu Zhou shook his head and said, “It’s difficult, very difficult… Simply put, spending money on researching lithium-air batteries is just a scam.”
The energy density of lithium-air batteries was attractive, and it was easier to develop one’s own core technologies compared to lithium-sulfur batteries. This was because people have been studying lithium-sulfur batteries for many years.
Without mentioning the giant company IBM, even the former energy minister appointed by Obama, and comrade Zhu Xiwen who won the Nobel prize, were almost fooled into researching lithium-sulfur batteries.
Lithium-air batteries had even worse problems.
It was not just the issue of lithium dendrites. The problem was a series of complex side oxygen separation reactions. Solving any of them would not only affect the battery industry.
With the current technology, no one even knew where to begin tackling the problem of lithium-air batteries.
Lu Zhou knew clearly that someone would put his name and thesis into a PowerPoint to defraud investors to fund lithium-air battery research.
Although it was not technically fraud, Lu Zhou still hoped that China would spend money on projects that were more realistic.
Even though those projects were less exciting.