Electron Energy Corporation to Develop Alternative Technologies to Reduce Heavy Rare Earth Usage in Permanent Magnets

LANDISVILLE, PA – Long-standing innovator in the field of rare-earth magnets, Electron Energy Corporation (EEC) has been awarded an $150,000 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop alternative magnet technologies which reduce the use of the critical rare earth element dysprosium. The program is scheduled to run through 14 August 2013.

“To mitigate the rare earth supply chain vulnerability and reduced availability of heavy rare earth elements such as dysprosium, Electron Energy Corporation will investigate new technologies to develop dysprosium-free and, alternatively, dysprosium-lean neodymium iron boron (Nd-Fe-B) magnets for high-performance motors and generators,” said Michael H. Walmer, EEC’s President.

High performance motors, like those in hybrid electric vehicles, use high performance Nd-Fe-B magnets that contain up to 12 wt% of dysprosium (Dy) in order to increase the coercivity, and increase resistance to demagnetization at elevated temperatures. Recently, efforts have been directed towards new designs of permanent magnet motors which allow the use of lower energy product magnets, or the use of induction motors; however, they have resulted in lower performances compared to rare earth permanent magnet designs, and could have customer acceptance and implementation issues.

“The global rare earth elements (Nd, Dy, etc) supply chain risk combined with predicted supply shortages for dysprosium, which DOE has deemed critical, has become a grave concern for the healthy development of green technologies operating with permanent magnets.” said Peter Dent, EEC VP of Business Development.

“The proposed project will develop a methodology for the production of high-performance, high-coercivity Nd-Fe-B permanent magnets with less or no dysprosium, based on (i) control of Dy atoms distribution at grain boundaries and (ii) microstructure engineering aimed at grain size refinement and new methods for intergranular phase control in Dy-free Nd-Fe-B magnets.” said Jinfang Liu, Ph.D., VP of Operations and Engineering at EEC and an internationally-recognized researcher in rare earth magnet materials and systems.

EEC is a U.S. producer of rare earth magnets and the only company in the world to produce ultra-high temperature Sm-Co magnets capable of operating continuously at temperatures up to 550°C, holding a broad U.S. patent to protect this technology. EEC has received SBIRs and STTRs from NASA, DOE, NSF, EPA and DOD sponsors.

For more information about Electron Energy Corporation’s magnets, design engineering services and magnet assemblies and systems, call toll-free at 1-800-824-2735. Our staff of engineering specialists is available for free technical consultations.