MANHASSET, NY -- Access to China's rare earth elements may become a moot point if Japanese researchers will be successful in building EV motors with magnets that don't need rare earth metals.
According to Japanese reports, a next-generation electric motor for automobiles that does not include any rare earth metals has been developed by the government-backed New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Hokkaido University.
Rare earth metals such as magnetism-boosting neodymium are used in magnets indispensable for the production of small, high-efficiency motors for hybrid and electric cars.
The new technology will help Japanese companies who currently depend on Chinese imports for the vast majority of their rare earth metals. Since this summer, Japana has been hobbled by an inconsistent supply as China curbed exports of the vital materials.
Rare earth metals such as magnetism-boosting neodymium are used in magnets indispensable for the production of small, high-efficiency motors for hybrid and electric cars. The Japanese researchers were able to build motors with magnets that don't include any rare earth metals and still boost motor magnetism magnetism. Their electric motor had the same power output as present models, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News.
The materials used to make regular magnets can be obtained cheaply and easily, "If we can make practical use of this technology, any worry over the supply of materials for magnets disappears," said Hokkaido University assistant professor Masatsugu Takemoto of the new motor, in a statement.
Separately, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata revealed that the government intends to include provisions for the creation of an emergency reserve of rare earth metals and other measures in the supplementary budget draft now under consideration for submission to the Diet.
U.S. legislators passed a bill to authorize development of a domestic rare earth materials program to address short-term scarcities and ensure long-term supply.
I am all for it! I hope that the technology solution can be shared and everyone benefit. Oftentimes we go for an easy solution instead of the harder elegant design, going the extra mile to avoid the need for rare earth materials is a great example of this in practice. I wonder how the size, cost, and performance compare to the rare materials counterparts? Any information or comparisons available?
This is the kind of news that gives creative engineers well deserved recognition. In addition to governments and industry moving ahead on improving access to limited raw materials - a technical solution is developed that reduces the needs for such ingredients. Well done!
Why is this a big deal? Tesla's motors don't use rare earth magnets. Seems like Japan Inc is just catching up to Silicon Valley.
Some motors use permanent magnets, but not the Roadster motor -- the magnetic field is created completely from electricity.
Of course they can, Motors were built before RE magnets were developed and even without PMs, but RE magnets have much greater energy product than the best AlNiCos so unless minimum size and weight is no object, old fashioned motors are fine. P. Studer
In line with santana338, has everyone forgotten the reduced cost and broader speed range performance available with switched reluctance motors (SRMs), and the simplicity and low cost associated with induction motors? These are devices that have been around since the 1800's, but with modern electronics can now be controlled and powered efficiently. Of course there are applications where the ability of the permanent magnet synchronous motor (commonly referred to as brushless DC or BLDC, and needing good permanent magnets for efficiency) to generate electricity without an external power source can be useful. But knowing when and what to use is our job as engineers...
I hope they develop the technology and keep it to themselves. Free trade doesn't mean keeping your kimono open for the world to see.
This will teach companies they need to hire their own reseachers and develope technologies in house.
Certainly a great development, yet long-term the demand for such materials will grow as will the supply.
It is a safe bet that Northern Canada and Russia have considerable deposits of rare earth elements.
sierra tango: there certainly is something to watch in both Russia and Canada. One recent deal gives some perspective. Stans Energy Corp recently signed a memorandum of intent with the Russian leading research institute of chemical technology VNIIHT "to conduct a review of the rare earth potential of the Russian Federation ...and [for] jointly pursuing potential acquisitions." Long road to actually producing and selling REEs but nonetheless useful to pursue.