Innovation Spotlight: Manganese Based Permanent Magnet

November 08, 2012 03:45 PM EST By: Sarah Wenning

TechConnect Innovation Tracking: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a TechConnect Accelerator participant-ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, 2012

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) materials scientist Jun Cui and his colleagues received an ARPA-E Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT) Award to develop a replacement for rare earth magnets - commonly used in wind turbines and electric vehicles (EVs) - based on an innovative nano-composite using manganese-based alloys.  Importantly, they are based on inexpensive and abundant raw materials.

Dr. Cui told TechConnect News about the excitement of reaching their proposal’s first milestone: alloy purity.  The purity of their alloy has exceeded 93%, surpassing their goal of 80%.  More importantly, the manufacturing method developed by the team is based on conventional metallurgical methods. It can be readily scaled up and will require minimum capital investment.

This magnet research, first funded by an internal PNNL laboratory directed research and development (LDRD) grant, could develop composites that may potentially be 50% stronger than the current state-of-the-art magnets at higher temperatures, possibly eliminating the need for a cooling system.  This, in turn, could further contribute to cost savings for both EVs and wind turbines.

The team will develop stronger magnets by combining modeling with high throughput experiments of various metal composite formulations that do not contain rare-earth materials. If developed successfully, these composite magnets will reduce dependence on expensive rare-earth material imports, and reduce the cost and improve efficiency of green technologies.

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