Thursday, January 5, 2012

No. 401: Eliminating rare earth contents from the next-generation motor for EVs (January 5, 2012)

Business trend
Electronic parts makers are accelerating their efforts to eliminate rare earth contents from the next-generation motor to be mounted on electric vehicles. Currently, such rare earths as neodymium and dysprosium are mixed with iron to create the strongest permanent magnet to be used for motors for EVs. Mitsubishi Electric developed a car-mounted motor utilizing the principle of electric magnet that does not use rare earth in alliance with New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The principle is to convert strong magnet energy generated by electrifying the coil wound around the circumference of iron oxide to the drive force. The motor based on this principle has lower energy efficiency than the existing motor in acceleration, but there is no difference in performance between the two at constant speed.

TDK developed a dysprosium-free permanent magnet that has the same magnet energy as a dysprosium-containing permanent magnet by minimizing and equalizing the molecules of materials. The company is scheduled to incorporate it in a car-mounted motor after 2014. Toshiba is developing a dysprosium-free magnet, using samarium abundant in Australia and the U.S. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will support these efforts. It plans to establish a technology & research organization to develop magnets with enough magnet energy and heat tolerance using abundant materials like nitriding iron. The organization to be participated by automotive makers, magnet makers, universities, and public research agencies is expected to develop rare earth-free magnets in a scheduled period of 10 years.

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