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REACT

Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's REACT program, short for "Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies", are developing cost-effective alternatives to rare earths, the naturally occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and wind generators. The REACT projects will identify low-cost and abundant replacement materials for rare earths while encouraging existing technologies to use them more efficiently. These alternatives would facilitate the widespread use of EVs and wind power, drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Ames National Laboratory

Novel High Energy Permanent Magnet Without Critical Elements

Ames Laboratory is developing a new class of permanent magnets based on the more commonly available element cerium for use in both EVs and renewable power generators. Cerium is 4 times more abundant and significantly less expensive than the rare earth element neodymium, which is frequently used in today's most powerful magnets. Ames Laboratory will combine other metal elements with cerium to create a new magnet that can remain stable at the high temperatures typically found in electric motors. This new magnetic material will ultimately be demonstrated in a prototype electric motor, representing a cost-effective and efficient alternative to neodymium-based motors.

Argonne National Laboratory

Nanocomposite Exchange-Spring Magnets for Motor and Generator Applications

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) is developing a cost-effective exchange-spring magnet to use in the electric motors of wind generators and EVs that uses no rare earth materials. This ANL exchange-spring magnet combines a hard magnetic outer shell with a soft magnetic inner core--coupling these together increases the performance (energy density and operating temperature). The hard and soft magnet composite particles would be created at the molecular level, followed by consolidation in a magnetic field. This process allows the particles to be oriented to maximize the magnetic properties of low-cost and abundant metals, eliminating the need for expensive imported rare earths. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new type of magnet in a prototype electric motor.

Baldor Electric Company

Rare-Earth-Free Traction Motor for Electric Vehicle Applications

Baldor Electric Company is developing a new type of traction motor with the potential to efficiently power future generations of EVs. Unlike today's large, bulky EV motors which use expensive, imported rare-earth-based magnets, Baldor's motor could be light, compact, contain no rare earth materials, and have the potential to deliver more torque at a substantially lower cost. Key innovations in this project include the use of a unique motor design, incorporation of an improved cooling system, and the development of advanced materials manufacturing techniques. These innovations could significantly reduce the cost of an electric motor.

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Superconducting Wires for Direct-Drive Wind Generators

Brookhaven National Laboratory is developing a low-cost superconducting wire that could be used in high-power wind generators. Superconducting wire currently transports 600 times more electric current than a similarly sized copper wire, but is significantly more expensive. Brookhaven National Laboratory will develop a high-performance superconducting wire that can handle significantly more electrical current, and will demonstrate an advanced manufacturing process that has the potential to yield a several-fold reduction in wire costs while using a using negligible amount of rare earth material. This design has the potential to make a wind turbine generator lighter, more powerful, and more efficient, particularly for offshore applications.

Case Western Reserve University

Transformation Enabled Nitride Magnets Absent Rare Earths (TEN Mare)

Case Western Reserve University is developing a highly magnetic iron-nitride alloy to use in the magnets that power electric motors found in EVs and renewable power generators. This would reduce the overall price of the motor by eliminating the expensive imported rare earth minerals typically found in today's best commercial magnets. The iron-nitride powder is sourced from abundant and inexpensive materials found in the U.S. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new magnet system, which contains no rare earths, in a prototype electric motor. This could significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. each year by encouraging the use of clean alternatives to oil and coal.

Dartmouth College

Nanocrystalline t-MnAl Permanent Magnets

Dartmouth College is developing specialized alloys with magnetic properties superior to the rare earths used in today's best magnets. EVs and renewable power generators typically use rare earths to turn the axles in their electric motors due to the magnetic strength of these minerals. However, rare earths are difficult and expensive to refine. Dartmouth will swap rare earths for a manganese-aluminum alloy that could demonstrate better performance and cost significantly less. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an easily scalable process that enables the widespread use of low-cost and abundant materials for the magnets used in EVs and renewable power generators.

Northeastern University

Multiscale Development of L10 Materials for Rare Earth-Free Permanent Magnets

Northeastern University is developing bulk quantities of rare-earth-free permanent magnets with an iron-nickel crystal structure for use in the electric motors of renewable power generators and EVs. These materials could offer magnetic properties that are equivalent to today's best commercial magnets, but with a significant cost reduction and diminished environmental impact. This iron-nickel crystal structure, which is only found naturally in meteorites and developed over billions of years in space, will be artificially synthesized by the Northeastern University team. Its material structure will be replicated with the assistance of alloying elements introduced to help it achieve superior magnetic properties. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate bulk magnetic properties that can be fabricated at the industrial scale.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Manganese-Based Permanent Magnet with 40 MGOe at 200°C

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is working to reduce the cost of wind turbines and EVs by developing a manganese-based nano-composite magnet that could serve as an inexpensive alternative to rare-earth-based magnets. The manganese composite, made from low-cost and abundant materials, could exceed the performance of today's most powerful commercial magnets at temperature higher than 200°C. Members of PNNL's research team will leverage comprehensive computer high-performance supercomputer modeling and materials testing to meet this objective. Manganese-based magnets could withstand higher temperatures than their rare earth predecessors and potentially reduce the need for any expensive, bulky engine cooling systems for the motor and generator. This would further contribute to cost savings for both EVs and wind turbines.

QM Power, Inc.

Advanced Electric Vehicle Motors with Low or No Rare Earth Content

QM Power is developing a new type of electric motor with the potential to efficiently power future generations of EVs without the use of rare-earth-based magnets. Many of today's EV motors use rare earth magnets to efficiently provide torque to the wheels. QM Power's motors would contain magnets that use no rare earth minerals, are light and compact, and can deliver more power with greater efficiency and at reduced cost. Key innovations in this project include a new motor design with iron-based magnetic materials, a new motor control technique, and advanced manufacturing techniques that substantially reduce the cost of the motor. The ultimate goal of this project is to create a cost-effective EV motor that offers the rough peak equivalent of 270 horsepower.

University of Alabama

Rare-Earth-Free Permanent Magnets for Electric Vehicle Motors and Wind Turbine Generators: Hexagonal Symmetry Based Materials Systems Mn-Bi and M-type Hexaferrite

The University of Alabama is developing new iron- and manganese-based composite materials for use in the electric motors of EVs and renewable power generators that will demonstrate magnetic properties superior to today's best rare-earth-based magnets. Rare earths are difficult and expensive to refine. EVs and renewable power generators typically use rare earths to make their electric motors smaller and more powerful. The University of Alabama has the potential to improve upon the performance of current state-of-the-art rare-earth-based magnets using low-cost and more abundant materials such as manganese and iron. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate improved performance in a full-size prototype magnet at reduced cost.

University of Houston

High-Performance, Low-Cost Superconducting Wires and Coils for High Power Wind Generators

The University of Houston is developing a low-cost, high-current superconducting wire that could be used in high-power wind generators. Superconducting wire currently transports 600 times more electric current than a similarly sized copper wire, but is significantly more expensive. The University of Houston's innovation is based on engineering nanoscale defects in the superconducting film. This could quadruple the current relative to today's superconducting wires, supporting the same amount of current using 25% of the material. This would make wind generators lighter, more powerful and more efficient. The design could result in a several-fold reduction in wire costs and enable their commercial viability of high-power wind generators for use in offshore applications.

University of Minnesota

Synthesis and Phase Stabilization of Body Center Tetragonal (BCT) Metastable Fe-N Anisotropic Nanocomposite Magnet- A Path to Fabricate Rare-Earth-Free Magnet

The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing an early stage prototype of an iron-nitride permanent magnet material for EVs and renewable power generators. This new material, comprised entirely of low-cost and abundant resources, has the potential to demonstrate the highest energy potential of any magnet to date. This project will provide the basis for an entirely new class of rare-earth-free magnets capable of generating power without costly and scarce rare earth materials. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate a prototype with magnetic properties exceeding state-of-the-art commercial magnets.

University of Texas, Dallas

Double-Stator Switched Reluctance Motor Technology

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is developing a unique electric motor with the potential to efficiently power future classes of EVs and renewable power generators. Unlike many of today's best electric motors--which contain permanent magnets that use expensive, imported rare earths--UT Dallas' motor completely eliminates the use of rare earth materials. Additionally, the motor contains two stators. The stator is the stationary part of the motor that uses electromagnetism to help its rotor spin and generate power. The double-stator design has the potential to generate very high power densities at substantially lower cost than existing motors. In addition, this design can operate under higher temperatures and in more rugged environments. This project will focus on manufacturing and testing of a 100 kW motor with emphasis on low cost manufacturing for future use in EVs and renewable power generators.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Discovery & Design of Novel Permanent Magnets Using Non-Strategic Elements Having Secure Supply Chains

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is developing a new magnet for use in renewable power generators and EV motors that requires no rare earth minerals. Rare earths are difficult and expensive to process, but they make electric motors and generators smaller, lighter, and more efficient. VCU would replace the rare earth minerals in EV motor magnets with a low-cost and abundant carbon-based compound that resembles a fine black powder. This new magnet could demonstrate the same level of performance as the best commercial magnets available today at a significantly lower cost. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new magnet in a prototype electric motor.

The story of an ARPA-E awardee doesn’t necessarily end when ARPA-E funding runs out. Two ARPA-E awardees—Eagle Picher Technologies and Baldor Electric Company—have developed technologies to the point where internal stakeholders of their respective companies committed additional funds to help these technologies achieve success in the market. This video features remarks from ARPA-E Technology-to-Market Advisor Kacy Gerst and interviews with technologists at Eagle Picher and Baldor, who each tell the story of how they achieved buy-in from their internal leadership to further develop their ARPA-E-funded technologies.
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