- Number 362 |
- May 7, 2012
Manganese may be key to rare-earth free magnets
Ames Laboratory will use scanning
tunneling electron microscopy in a
research effort to develop a new
manganese-based material for use in
rare-earth free high-strength,
Rare earths elements are of high interest because they are key components of nearly every modern-day electronic device, from televisions to cell phones and computers to automobiles. They’re also key elements in magnets used in wind turbines.
Scientists from DOE's Ames Laboratory will team with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on research to reduce dependence on critical materials like rare earths in wind turbines and electric vehicles by developing a new material based on manganese as a rare-earth free alternative to rare-earth permanent magnets. These manganese composite magnets hold the potential to double the magnetic strength relative to current magnets while using raw materials that are inexpensive and abundant.
Members of this research team will speed up the typical process of developing new alloys by using computers to guide materials selection. The computer-based work will aid experimental efforts to winnow a much larger number of potential compositions than can usually be evaluated in such a short time. If this over-the-horizon advanced research effort is successful, the manganese composite magnets could reduce U.S. dependence on expensive rare-earth material imports and reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of green-energy applications, such as wind turbines and electric vehicles.
Scientist Matthew Kramer will lead the three-year Ames Laboratory portion of the $2.3 million research project.
“The Ames Laboratory initiative will focus on what improvements can be made to the alloys’ composition that will provide the biggest boost to the magnetic properties, which is critical to the success of this project because there are just too many combinations to try using conventional Edisonian methods,” said Kramer.Other partners include Electron Energy Corp, United Technologies Research Center, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Submitted by DOE’s Ames Laboratory