The Japanese government is actively promoting the public-private alliance for the development of technology to eliminate the dependence on rare earths, responding to China’s export restrictions on rare earths. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry visited a plant of TDK that produces rare-earth-containing magnets for motors of the next-generation vehicles and announced the resolution to assist private companies with their efforts to develop the technology to eliminate the dependence on rare earths as a country policy.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided to allocate two billion yen for a 10-year government-private sector joint research project to develop rare-earth-free vehicle motors. It held the first workshop to discuss research and development trends on how to reduce usage of rare earths jointly with the U.S. and EC last October, and will hold the second one on April 28 this year.
Private companies are also accelerating their efforts to advance the required technology. Mitsubishi Electric developed a rare-earth-free in-car motor based on the principle of electromagnet in alliance with New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). TDK developed a permanent magnet that does not need dysprosium at all. Nidec announced its plan to mass produce rare-earth-free next-generation motors and start to ship them to automakers both at home and abroad starting in 2013.
Development of a rare-earth-free vehicle motor