Honda Cooperates In Research And Development Of New Magnets For Motor Products, Reducing Dependence On Chinese Resources

- Nov 15, 2018-

Honda cooperates in research and development of new magnets for motor products, reducing dependence on Chinese resources

The use of neodymium magnets has always been limited by rare earth elements, and the emergence of new technologies will break this barrier. Recently, Honda and Datong Electronics announced that they have used the new technology to produce a high-performance magnet without rare earth, a hot-deformed neodymium magnet, which is mainly used to make electric motor.

Recently, Honda and Datong Electronics announced that they have used the new technology to produce a high-performance magnet without rare earth, a hot-deformed neodymium magnet, which is mainly used to make electric motor. The new method will reduce its dependence on China's imports of rare earth elements.

▲ In order to improve the performance of the motor, Honda has specially optimized this new magnet material. While changing the shape of the magnet, Honda also redesigned the shape of the rotor to maximize the magnetic flux of the magnet.

"The thermally deformed neodymium magnet does not contain any rare earth elements, but it has strong heat resistance and magnetic properties, which can well meet the needs of hybrid electric vehicle drive motors." This thermally deformed neodymium magnet will first be applied to Honda Freed's hybrid system. Freed is targeting small MPVs and plans to go public before the end of this year. In the future, Honda will adopt this technology in more new models.

In 2010, due to the East China Sea issue, Sino-Japanese relations were tense, and China temporarily restricted the export of rare earth elements to Japan. In order to enhance the company's autonomy and ensure the stable supply of raw materials, Honda announced that it will work with Datong Electronics to develop new magnets that do not contain rare earths.

Among all the magnets in the world today, neodymium magnets are the most powerful and can be used in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicle drive motors. As the electric vehicle market continues to expand, the demand for neodymium magnets will increase exponentially in the future.

▲The reserves of rare earth elements are unevenly distributed in the world. China's rare earth reserves account for only 35% of the global total, but it accounts for 93% of the global supply of rare earth elements.

Due to the limitations of the working environment, if a neodymium magnet is to be applied to the driving motor of an electric vehicle, it must have a strong heat resistance. In order to improve the heat resistance of the neodymium magnet, a common method employed in the industry is to add rare earth elements (lanthanum and cerium) to the neodymium magnet.

However, rare earth reserves are unevenly distributed globally. China's rare earth reserves account for only 35% of the global total, but account for 93% of the global supply of rare earth elements. In addition, rare earth elements are rare metals, and their supply and price are affected by many factors. Therefore, from the perspective of supply stability and cost, reducing the use of rare earth elements on neodymium magnets is of great significance for the development of Honda and Datong.

At present, Datong has realized the mass production of neodymium magnets through the thermal deformation process. “The thermal deformation process can rearrange the nano-scale crystal particles into a completely new crystal structure. The new structure is ten times smaller than the sintered magnet, so it can produce a magnet with higher heat resistance.”

▲The thermally deformed neodymium magnet will be first applied to Honda Freed's hybrid system. Freed is targeting small MPVs and plans to go public before the end of this year.

In order to improve the performance of the motor, Honda has specially optimized this new magnet material. While changing the shape of the magnet, Honda also redesigned the shape of the rotor to maximize the magnetic flux of the magnet. After optimization, the motor, which does not contain rare earth magnets, has the same level of torque, power and heat resistance as conventional motors.

The use of neodymium magnets has always been limited by rare earth elements, and the emergence of new technologies will break this barrier. Datong said that after mastering this technology, the company will be able to circumvent the risks associated with resource supply and diversify its procurement channels.

With the subsidy from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Datong Electronics plans to use the new product line of Nakatsugawa City in Gifu Prefecture to ensure the mass production and shipment of new magnets.

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