The Department of Energy Critical Material Supply Chain Mission: Accelerate the development of new permanent magnets
Since 2013, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office has supported the Critical Materials Innovation Hub (CMI), which has a primary mission to “accelerate innovative scientific and technological solutions to develop resilient and secure supply chains for rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies”. Among these activities have been the discovery and development of new permanent magnets to substitute for those used in the United States today, especially strong, anisotropic ones such as NdFeB and SmCo.
Several of these magnets are now of sufficient maturity to be ready for demonstration and deployment efforts, with commercialization likely to soon follow. These magnets include the following:
• A Lanthanum-based competitor to NdFeB magnets, which shows in laboratory measurements energy products as high as 37 MG-Oe, with 25% less critical rare earth content than NdFeB magnets and, crucially, no Dysprosium ;
• A Cerium-based competitor to SmCo magnets, at substantially reduced Cobalt content, with energy products of 20 MG-Oe, comparable temperature dependence, and no critical rare earth content [2,3]; and
• A magnet based on the known potential high-performance magnet Sm2Fe17N3 for which CMI has developed a unique low-temperature sintering capability, yielding magnets at laboratory scale with energy products exceeding 20 MG-Oe at nearly full density .
Finally, I will discuss licensing for these new magnet technologies for demonstration, deployment and ultimate entry into the marketplace.