Niron Magnetics, a developer of high-performance, rare earth-free permanent magnets (earlier post), announced that the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded the company a $17.5-million grant as part of its Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program. (Earlier post.)
Niron will use this financing to advance the commercial partnerships and pilot production of its rare earth-free Clean Earth Magnet, further demonstrating its potential to replace rare earth permanent magnets.
The project will expand Niron’s current capacity to sample to customers, accelerating the prototyping and qualification of Clean Earth Magnets in commercial products.
Powerful permanent magnets are necessary components of electric vehicle motors, wind turbines, efficient industrial motors, and many other modern technologies essential to the clean energy transition. Today, these magnets rely on rare earth elements. However, rare earth extraction can be environmentally destructive and the supply concentration poses geopolitical and sourcing risk, as 92% of rare earth magnet production is in China. With demand expected to triple by 2035, shortages and price increases are also forecasted.
Niron’s Clean Earth Magnets are permanent magnets made from iron nitride (FeN) using widely available commodity raw materials. Iron nitride has a very high magnetic flux density; flux density is proportional to torque density in motors and generators. The result is a powerful, domestically manufacturable, clean material to enable the clean energy transition and ensure supply for all magnet users.
At full-scale, just two Niron manufacturing facilities have the potential to enable to 167% of the White House’s 2030 annual electric vehicle goal, or 103% of its 2030 offshore wind goal.
Six leading global manufacturers of devices that rely on magnets have partnered with Niron on the SCALEUP project, spanning various end-use industries. These commercial partners represent the customer perspective, ensuring that Niron’s SCALEUP project meets procurement requirements and feeds into the prototyping and testing programs that precede commercial production. Commercial partners on the project include:
Peerless, Tymphany’s audio components division, a global leader in the design and manufacturing of professional speaker drivers;
Premium Sound Solutions, a leading designer and manufacturer of automotive sound products supplying the majority of premium car brands globally, widely recognized for its product innovation and sustainability ambitions;
Western Digital, a leading global data storage solutions provider that designs and manufactures flash and hard disk drive products for cloud, edge, and consumer markets;
One of the top 5 global power tool OEMs; and
One of the top 5 global wind turbine OEMs
Jian-Ping Wang (2022) “Environment-friendly bulk Fe16N2 permanent magnet: Review and prospective,” Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, doi: 10.1016/j.jmmm.2019.165962