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Niron Magnetics raises $21.3M to commercialize rare-earth-free iron-nitride magnets

Niron Magnetics, a company developing high-performance rare-earth-free iron-nitride (FeN) permanent magnets, has raised $21.3 million in new financing. The Volvo Cars Tech Fund and Volta Energy Technologies join existing investors Anzu Partners and the University of Minnesota.

Niron will use the funding to build its pilot production facility in Minnesota and accelerate the development of its Clean Earth Magnet technology.

Surging global demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and other motorized devices has highlighted global dependency on the unsustainably-produced rare earth materials currently required for the magnets needed in electric drivetrains and motors.

Niron’s Clean Earth Magnet technology eliminates the need for rare earth content in magnets and uses iron and nitrogen instead to deliver better performance and lower costs. Niron says that its technology delivers magnets that are less expensive, more sustainable, globally available, and made from abundant input materials not subject to supply constraints or price instability.

Niron’s production process is up to 95% less damaging across certain environmental impacts than alternatives, as its input materials require no toxic mining and refining.

Niron says that the first generation of Clean Earth Magnet will offer a magnetic field strength of approximately 0.9 Tesla and will address a wide range of applications from audio speakers, magnetic sensors and consumer appliances to industrial motors and automotive accessory motors.

The company’s second-generation magnet will offer a magnetic field strength of 1.5 Tesla and will address higher torque density applications and high operating temperatures including electric vehicle drivetrains and wind turbines.

Niron will begin sampling in limited quantity to selected partners, who can collaborate closely with Niron to design the magnets into suitable high-volume applications.

Background. As part of ARPA-E’s REACT program, the University of Minnesota (UMN) developed an early stage prototype of an iron-nitride permanent magnet material. Since completing its ARPA-E award, the University of Minnesota team created a spinout startup company: Niron Magnetics. Niron is developing the first advanced manufacturing process for the mass production of the FeN permanent magnets.

The development process of Niron’s scalable method has resulted in the publication of 20 peer-reviewed scientific papers as well as 17 granted and 35 pending patents.

Resources

  • Jian-Ping Wang (2020) “Environment-friendly bulk Fe16N2 permanent magnet: Review and prospective,” Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, doi: 10.1016/j.jmmm.2019.165962

Comments

Davemart

This could be of major importance, especially in my view for wind turbines, but in a host of other applications too, of course.

mahonj

Sounds good - I wonder how long it will take to get the 2nd generation out in volume, and how many tesla the competing rare earth magnets can achieve.

Davemart

@mahonj

Have a look at the video - they give quite a lot of detail there, and claim their magnets outperform rare earth for strength.

gryf

From one of Niron Magnetics references:
The key controversies around this material have now been successfully addressed through our long and persistent efforts from 2002 to 2012, first reported in APS 2010 and then at INTERMAG 2012. Since then, α″-Fe16N2 has been picked up as one of the most promising rare-earth-free magnet candidates because of its use of environment-friendly raw materials, confirmed giant saturation magnetic flux density (2.9 T), and reasonably high magnetic anisotropy constant (1.8 MJ/m3). Its coercivity temperature coefficient (~0.4 Oe/°C) in the range of 27–152 °C is two orders of magnitude lower than that of commercial NdFeB magnets (e.g. N40 ~ −81.9 Oe/K).
"Environment-friendly bulk Fe16N2 permanent magnet: Review and prospective",Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials
Volume 497, 1 March 2020, 165962 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304885319325454).
Neodymium magnets can create magnetic fields with up to 1.4 teslas.

yoatmon

Perhaps at this stage of development it may be a bit early to speculate about graphene replacing ferrous magnets with - or without rare earths.
https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2010/07/29/graphene-under-strain/

Davemart

@yoatman:

What is the relevance of the 2010 paper you link on graphene to these iron nitride magnets?

韩相华

‘by using four different approaches, including an ion implantation method, a nanoparticle based approach, a high-temperature nitridation method based on foils, wires, and melt-spun ribbons, and a low-temperature nitridation method based on foils and ribbons.’

Yes, the intrinsic magnetic performance of bct-Fe16N2 is powerful, but it's totally different to produce a reality product. The density, shape and reality magnetic performance, even for some application without high coercivity requirement.

And in the other hand, it's pretty hard to obtain pure bct-Fe16N2 in mass production.

Therefore, I am not optimistic about the prospects of this project. Let's see after 5 years.

03.08.2021

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