ARPA-E announced $31.6 million in awards to develop new, rare-earth-free permanent magnet materials. Credit: ARPA-E

Rare earth permanent magnets are key components in electric vehicle motors and in wind turbine electricity generators, and international concern over the economics of rare-earth raw materials has been well documented here and elsewhere. DOE is addressing the issue from the technology side through its ARPA-E program, REACT—Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies—whose mission is to develop substitute materials for rare earth permanent magnets.

Last Friday ARPA-E director, Arun Majumdar, announced awards of $156 million for 60 projects in five of the agency’s program areas. In the REACT program, 14 projects were funded with $31.6 million in awards that ranged from about $400k to $3.4 million.

Here is a capsule summary of the projects. Except for the first two projects, awardees are partnering with other organizations. Only the lead organization is listed.

  • Case Western Reserve University
    “Transformation Enabled Nitride Magnets Absent Rare Earths”
    Investigators will use micro-alloying of iron-nitride alloys with the goal of demonstrating a new magnet system, containing no rare earths, in a prototype electric motor.
  • Dartmouth College
    “Nanocrystalline τ-MnAl Permanent”
    Investigators will create bulk nanocrystalline manganese-aluminum alloys with the goal of developing a subsequently scalable process that demonstrates magnetic properties for bulk magnets.
  • University of Houston
    “High Performance, Low Cost Superconducting Wires and Coils for High Power Wind Generators”
    The UH team will develop a high-performance, low-cost superconducting wire and demonstrate an advanced manufacturing process that, if successful, has the potential to yield a several-fold reduction in wire costs.
  • Northeastern University
    “Multiscale Development of L10 Materials for Rare-Earth-Free Permanent Magnets”
    A unique iron-nickel crystal structure is found naturally in meteorites and the team will apply advanced synthesis to artificially create this magnetic material structure. The goal is to demonstrate bulk magnetic properties with subsequently scalable fabrication processes.
  • QM Power
    “Advanced Electric Vehicle Motors with Low or No Rare Earth Content”
    The team will develop a motor that uses no rare earth materials, is light and compact, and potentially delivers more power with greater efficiency at less cost. Key innovations will include a new motor design, emerging materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to reduce costs.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    “Manganese-Based Permanent Magnet with 40 MGOe at 200°C”
    PNNL will develop a composite using manganese materials, which have the potential to double the magnetic strength relative to those being used today, by leveraging high-performance supercomputer modeling and synthesis experiments of various metal composite formulations that do not contain rare earths.
  • University of Alabama
    “Rare‐Earth‐Free Permanent Magnets for Electrical Vehicle Motors and Wind Turbine Generators: Hexagonal Symmetry Based Materials Systems Mn‐Bi and M‐type Hexaferrite”
    The team will demonstrate advanced magnetic properties of new magnetic composite materials.
  • Argonne National Laboratory
    “Nanocomposite Exchange-Spring Magnets for Motor and Generator Applications”
    ANL will create a new class of permanent magnets based on a metal composite magnet design containing a blend of very small particles embedded in a matrix in aligned arrays.
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
    “Superconducting Wires for Direct-Drive Wind Generators”
    In this project, the team will develop a new 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.
  • Baldor Electric Company
    “Rare Earth-Free Traction Motor for Electric Vehicle Applications”
    The project goal is to develop a new type of electric motor with the potential to efficiently power a next generation class of electric vehicles. Key innovations include an innovative motor design a unique cooling system, and development of advanced materials manufacturing techniques.
  • General Atomics
    “Double-Stator Switched Reluctance Motor Technology”
    This project will focus on improving the performance and enhancing the manufacturability of the unique “double stator” motor design, initially investigated at UT-Dallas, for transportation applications.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
    “Discovery and Design of Novel Permanent Magnets using Non-strategic Elements having Secure Supply Chains”
    The project will demonstrate a new class of permanent magnets based on a carbide-based composite magnet.
  • University of Minnesota
    “Synthesis and Phase Stabilization of Body Center Tetragonal Metastable Fe-N Anisotropic Nanocomposite Magnet- A Path to Fabricate Rare Earth Free Magnet”
    This is a project to develop an early-stage prototype of bulk iron-nitride permanent magnet material.
  • Ames Laboratory
    “Novel High Energy Permanent Magnet Without Critical Elements”
    Ames Laboratory and its team members will develop a new class of permanent magnets from on cerium based alloys. Cerium is four times more abundant than neodymium.