AI discovers new rare-earth-free magnet at 200 times human speed

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As some institutions identify new (or at least overlooked) sources to meet the growing demand for rare earth materials, others are looking to new tools. British deep-tech company Materials Nexus announced on Tuesday that it has designed a new rare-earth-free permanent magnet with the help of its AI platform. It said the AI-powered discovery and development process was 200 times faster than the resource-intensive manual route, giving new hope to a power generation world with a growing appetite for powerful magnets.

As the world moves away from internal combustion engines and gradually embraces electric mobility, the demand for compact, high-power motors is growing rapidly. By far the most popular option in the automotive industry is the permanent magnet motor, which powers over 80% of modern electric vehicles.

Materials Nexus estimates that demand for permanent magnets in the EV industry alone will increase tenfold by 2030. And it's not just electric cars and trucks. Permanent magnet motors are in demand for many applications including robotics, drones, wind turbines and HVAC equipment.

The problem is that the rare earth materials used to make the most powerful magnets and highly efficient, power-dense motors – materials like neodymium and dysprosium – require damaging mining and expensive, energy-intensive processing. With its world's largest EV market, China has emerged as a leader in both rare earth mining and processing, extracting 70% of the world's rare earths from the ground while close to 90% Processing. This gives the country monopoly-like control over essential materials, leaving other markets exposed to supply disruptions and price fluctuations.

The search for alternatives continues, and some automakers and suppliers are beginning to develop and incorporate magnet-free motors. Others, including Tesla, are pursuing permanent magnet designs free of rare earth materials.

Rare-earth-free magnets certainly sound like an interesting solution, but they can be difficult to manufacture and less powerful than traditional rare-earth magnets. Niron Magnetics developed the world's first high-performance rare-earth-free magnets using a mixture of abundantly available iron and nitrogen, but it has been researching and developing it for more than a decade and is still Not mass produced. production

Materials Nexus is letting the world know it's here to help. He believes he has what it takes for contemporary and future magnet startups to identify and develop rare-earth-free magnetic materials, and by substituting AI for old-fashioned trial-and-error, He believes they can do it hundreds of times faster. Faster than conventionally possible. It says its AI platform can identify rare-earth-free magnetic materials in days or weeks, as opposed to the years and decades it took in the past.

Rather than just impressive data, Materials Nexus has already used its AI platform to identify a rare earth-free permanent magnet called MagNex. The AI ​​analyzed more than 100 million rare-earth-free material compositions before landing on the MagNex, considering variables such as cost, supply chain security, efficiency and environmental impact.

With AI doing the heavy lifting, Materials Nexus synthesized and tested MagNex with the help of the Henry Rice Institute at the University of Sheffield. In three months, the company had accomplished what would have taken its AI system years before.

Additionally, MaterialsNexus says the MagNex material can be produced at 20% of the material cost of currently available rare earth magnets, with a 70% reduction in carbon emissions.

“We're really excited that our first interaction with the materials nexus has had such a hugely positive outcome,” said Iain Todd, Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Processing at the University of Sheffield. “The combination of Material Nexus's approach to using AI for material discovery and the world-class facilities we have at the Henry Royce Institute in Sheffield for the production of advanced composites has enabled us to accelerate the development of a new magnetic material. Allowed to be produced together.”

While a brand new rare-earth-free magnet added some serious juice to this week's announcement, the material is far from the only potential use case for Nexus' AI. AI will be useful for all types of industries, the company says, helping to identify and create the next generation of new technologies and innovative materials that reduce CO2e emissions. It plans to work with industry partners to accelerate the discovery of viable, low-cost and sustainable next-generation materials.

“Our platform has already attracted widespread interest for a variety of products with applications including semiconductors, catalysts and coatings,” said Dr. Jonathan Bain, CEO of Materials Nexus. “I look forward to seeing the role it will play in supporting market demand for the creation of novel materials to help rapidly address supply chain and environmental issues.”

As we do. We also look forward to seeing if MagNex becomes a viable magnet replacement for permanent magnet motors, whether for electric mobility or one of the other applications for which such motors will continue to be in high demand.

Source: Materials Nexus

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