Japan’s Proterial Develops Prototype EV Motor Without Neodymium Magnets

Highlights :

  • Proterial EV motor uses high-performance ferrite magnet NMF 15
  • This would substitute the Neodymium magnets, rare earth metal chiefly sourced from China, potentially reducing the reliance of the EV industry on China
Japan’s Proterial Develops Prototype EV Motor Without Neodymium Magnets

Japanese metal maker Proterial has recently developed a prototype motor for electric vehicles that use magnets that do not contain the rare-earth metal neodymium. Neodymium magnets are the most common type of magnets currently employed in EV motors. However, this rare earth metal is chiefly sourced from China, because of which a stable procurement has been an issue. Proterial EV motor, which uses high-performance ferrite magnet NMF 15, could potentially reduce the reliance that the EV industry has on China.

Neodymium magnets are a type of permanent magnet made from an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron (NdFeB), which are known for their exceptional magnetic properties. These magnets are one of the most powerful permanent magnets available commercially, providing strong magnetic fields in a compact size. This high magnetic strength allows for the generation of substantial torque in the electric motor, enabling efficient power output and propulsion for the EV. Further, the strong magnetic fields generated by neodymium magnets reduce energy losses in the motor, resulting in higher overall energy efficiency for the electric vehicles.

The new magnet is mainly composed of ferrite. The company claims that the prototype was tested and it was confirmed that the motor output necessary for EVs can be achieved.

Proterial, formerly known as Hitachi Metals, said last year that computer simulations had confirmed that ferrite magnets, which are primarily composed of iron oxide, can be used in EV motors. Based on that the company developed a prototype motor for EVs that utilizes those magnets and has used it to conduct performance tests.

Ferrite magnets are only about one-tenth the strength of neodymium magnets, and until now have not been used in the major types of EV motors. Proterial said it has developed the technology to increase the output of an EV motor through a novel arrangement of the magnets. The tests conducted on the prototype model have confirmed that output usable for EVs can be obtained.

Proterial does not intend to mass-produce its motors, but only to sell ferrite magnets and other materials to motor manufacturers seeking to reduce the risk of being denied access to rare earth metals. It plans to pursue sales activities to reach full-scale adoption in EVs by the early 2030s.

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