Reportedly Tesla is outselling top European luxury brands. And why not? Electric is cool. And relevant. In response, Toyota has developed a new magnet for electric motors that requires only half of the rare-earth elements needed for it to function. Above, Toyota's fourth generation Prius motor.
Neodymium plays an important role in maintaining high coercivity – the ability to maintain magnetism – and heat resistance. Simply reducing the amount of neodymium and replacing it with lanthanum and cerium would cause a decline in motor performance, so Toyota adopted new technologies that suppress any deterioration in these qualities. The result is a magnet with equivalent levels of heat resistance, but with a reduction of up to 50 per cent in amount of neodymium used.
This new type of magnet is expected to be useful in expanding the use of motors in areas such as automobiles and robotics, as well as maintaining a balance between the supply and demand of valuable rare earth resources. Toyota will work to further enhance performance and evaluate the magnet’s use in products, while accelerating the development of mass production technologies with the aim of early adoption for different applications, including vehicles and robotics.
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