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.