High-Energy Composite Permanent Magnets

University of Delaware
High-Energy Permanent Magnets for Hybrid Vehicles and Alternative Energy
Graphic of Delaware's technology
ARPA-E Award: 
Newark, DE
Project Term: 
02/15/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
Critical Need: 
High-performance electric machines such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), electric vehicles (EVs), and wind turbines require permanent magnets. Today's best-performing magnets contain expensive rare earth elements that come from outside the U.S. In the absence of increased domestic supply, technological advances that utilize alternatives to rare earth elements must be made to ensure our national economic and energy security. These abundant alternatives must meet or exceed the performance of their rarer predecessors while remaining cost-competitive.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
The University of Delaware is developing permanent magnets that contain less rare earth material and produce twice the energy of the strongest rare earth magnets currently available. The University of Delaware is creating these magnets by mixing existing permanent magnet materials with those that are more abundant, like iron. Both materials are first prepared in the form of nanoparticles via techniques ranging from wet chemistry to ball milling. After that, the nanoparticles must be assembled in a 3-D array and consolidated at low temperatures to form a magnet. With small size particles and good contact between these two materials, the best qualities of each allow for the development of exceptionally strong composite magnets.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, the University of Delaware would create a permanent magnet that would help make EVs and many other electronic devices smaller, cheaper, lighter, and more energy efficient.
Over 99% of the world's rare earth elements are found outside the U.S. The geographical distribution of these resources puts the supply at risk and increases our dependence on foreign countries.
Advanced permanent magnet motors would enable the widespread adoption of HEVs and EVs, reducing nearly 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
Energy technologies like wind turbines and EVs are fast-growing market sectors. Improved magnets will help maintain that rate of growth.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Mark Johnson
Project Contact: 
Prof. George Hadjipanayish
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