Toyota magnet reduces dependence on widely used rare earth metal.
This week, the Japanese company Toyota introduced its counterpart to a new heat-resistant magnet, the production of which requires much less rare earth metal such as neodymium (up to about fifty percent less).
Neodymium is a scarce raw material in the production of engines of modern electric and hybrid cars. Mineral experts have dubbed this news almost epoch-making, as the main supplier of this rare earth element is China, since 2010 it has reduced its supplies to the world market by 30%.
Akiro Kato, the general director of research and development at Toyota, in his briefing to journalists, conveyed the main idea that the developed technology is necessary in order to reduce neodymium consumption in the production of electric vehicles.
According to the International Energy Agency, by the year 2040, the total number of electric cars in the world will be more than 40 million units. This development will give the Japanese company a huge advantage over other electric car manufacturers.
In addition, such a magnetic alloy does not include such elements as terbium and dysprosium - scarce rare-earth metals, due to which a neodymium magnet will not lose its properties, even when exposed to high temperatures. Other manufacturers of magnets solve this problem by simply increasing the content of neodymium in the crystal lattice of the magnet.
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The solution to this problem is that Japanese scientists along with neodymium apply lanthanum and cerium. These rare earth metals have two indisputable advantages: they are very common on our planet and their cost is about 20 times less than the same neodymium.
But just a simple reduction of the amount of neodymium in the magnet alloy and replacing it with cerium and lanthanum will not solve the problem and will have a strong effect on the deterioration of the properties of the magnet.The company claims that they already have the “key to the solution” of this task - a new technology that allows reducing the reduction of the coercivity and heat resistance of a magnet, even when replacing neodymium with cerium and lanthanum.
“Toyota” assures that the new magnet has the same level of heat resistance as modern samples, but it has substantially less neodymium (approximately two times less).
The new magnet, even when exposed to significant temperatures, maintains its ferromagnetic properties in almost unchanged condition, thanks to a combination of the following technologies: granular cleaning of the magnet, two-layer high-performance surface of the grain of the magnet and the specific doping coefficient of cerium and lanthanum.
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In a report to the Reuters edition, Akiro Kato stated that Toyota can replace up to half of the neodymium used for electric motors involved in controlling the simplest functions of a car (for example, in drive motors for lifting car windows) and to replace neodymium by up to twenty percent. power engines of electric cars and other installations.
What to expect from developers in the future?
The popular American edition of the “Green Car Congress” writes in its article that in the next ten years, the Japanese company will be closely involved in the latest developments and practical testing of high-performance electric drives and power electrical installations based on the magnet.