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Rare earth metals eliminated from EV motors

Posted: 07 Oct 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:motors  rare earth metals  electric cars 

Researchers at Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and Hokkaido University have designed and built an electric motor with magnets that don't include any rare earth metals and still boost motor magnetism.

Rare earth metals such as neodymium are used in magnets that are indispensable in the small, high-efficiency motors used for hybrid and electric cars. These are imported from China, but the supply has been inconsistent since China reduces exports of the metals.

Now, Japan companies will not need to depend on the imports.

Japan researchers have designed and built an electric motor with magnets that don't include any rare earth metals and still boost motor magnetism. The motor has the same power output as present models, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News.

The materials used to make regular magnets can be obtained cheaply and easily. "If we can make practical use of this technology, any worry over the supply of materials for magnets disappears," noted Masatsugu Takemoto, assistant professor at Hokkaido University, in a statement.

Separately, Akihiro Ohata, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said that the government plans to include provisions for an emergency reserve of rare earth metals and in the supplementary budget draft now under consideration for submission to the Diet.

U.S. legislators have already passed a bill to authorise development of a domestic rare earth materials programme to address short-term scarcities and ensure long-term supply.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times





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