AI Discovers New Rare-Earth-Free Magnet At 200 Times The Speed Of Man

On Tuesday, UK deep-tech company Materials Nexus announced the development of a new rare-earth-free permanent magnet, created with the assistance of its AI platform.

There is a growing demand for small, high-power motors as the globe moves away from internal combustion engines and towards electric transportation. In the automobile sector, permanent magnet motors are preferable because they power over 80% of contemporary electric cars (EVs).

According to Materials Nexus, the EV industry alone will account for ten times the growth in demand for permanent magnets by 2030. These magnets are necessary for robots, drones, wind turbines, HVAC equipment, and electric vehicles and trucks. However, these magnets’ common rare earth elements, such as dysprosium and neodymium, require costly, energy-intensive processing and hazardous mining methods. With about 70% of the world’s rare earths mined and processed there, China controls a large portion of this market, leaving other markets vulnerable to disruptions in supply and volatility in prices.

In response, some suppliers and automakers are creating motors without rare earth magnets, while others—like Tesla—are concentrating on permanent magnet designs without rare earth materials. Although they seem like a good idea, rare-earth-free magnets are more difficult to make and frequently have lower strengths than conventional magnets. For instance, Niron Magnetics has been working on creating high-performance, rare-earth-free magnets using iron and nitrogen for more than ten years, but they are still not suitable for scale manufacturing.

Materials Nexus believes it has the answer. Utilizing AI instead of traditional trial-and-error methods, it claims to expedite the identification and development of rare-earth-free magnetic materials. The company’s AI platform can pinpoint these materials in days or weeks, a process that historically took years or decades.

Proving its capability, Materials Nexus used its AI platform to identify a rare-earth-free permanent magnet named MagNex. The AI evaluated over 100 million rare-earth-free material compositions, considering factors like cost, supply chain security, performance, and environmental impact. Following this, Materials Nexus synthesized and tested MagNex with the Henry Royce Institute at the University of Sheffield. Within three months, they accomplished work that previously would have taken years.

Moreover, Materials Nexus reports that MagNex can be produced at 20% of the material cost of current rare earth magnets, with a 70% reduction in material carbon emissions.

University of Sheffield Professor Iain Todd commended the partnership: “We’re really excited that our first interaction with Materials Nexus has yielded such a hugely positive outcome. The combination of Materials Nexus’ approach of using AI for materials discovery and our world-class facilities for manufacturing advanced alloys in the Henry Royce Institute here at Sheffield has allowed a novel magnetic material to be developed with breathtaking speed.”

Materials Nexus sees potential beyond this achievement, asserting that its AI can support various industries by identifying and creating next-generation materials to drive new technologies and reduce CO2 emissions.

“Our platform” has already attracted widespread interest for various products with applications that include semiconductors, catalysts, and coatings. I look forward to seeing the role it will play in supporting market demand for creating novel materials to help address increasingly pressing supply chain and environmental issues,” said CEO Dr” Jonathan Bean, highlighting the platform’s brplatform’sst.

Source: Materials Nexus

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