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GM and Stellantis Back Rare-Earth-Free Permanent Magnet

But any payoff in EVs will depend on radically redesigned electric motors

For several years, the automobile industry has grappled with a straightforward question: Is it possible to produce a powerful, efficient, and mass-producible synchronous motor that contains no rare-earth elements at all? A newly announced partnership between General Motors and the startup magnet company Niron Magnetics suggests a resounding “yes.”

That was how the media reported it on 8 November, after GM Ventures, Stellantis Ventures, and several other investors disclosed a US $33 million infusion into Niron’s iron-nitride magnet. At the same time, GM and Niron announced that they had agreed to form a strategic partnership to codevelop rare-earth-free permanent magnets “that can be used in future GM EVs.”

However, many experts in magnetics are doubtful. They question whether it’s possible to mass-manufacture an economical magnet free of rare earths that is strong and tough enough for EV propulsion.


“There’s a compound there,” says Alexander Gabay, a researcher at the University of Delaware, referring to the iron nitride in the magnets being developed by Niron. But “it’s not intrinsically capable of making a good magnet. It’s that simple. This is well-known in the community.”

Niron CEO Jonathan Rowntree stands in front of a chemical reactor used to produce the company’s iron-nitride compound.NIRON MAGNETICS

Automakers have spent enormous sums in recent years preparing for a transportation future dominated by electric vehicles. Part of that preparation has focused on rare-earth elements. For every 100 kilowatts of peak power, an EV motor uses an average of 1.2 kilograms of neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets, according to Adamas Intelligence. And for automakers, there are two big problems associated with rare earths: Processing of the elements from ore has been a typically environmentally ruinous affair so far. And nearly 90 percent of processed rare earths come from China, which means a supply-chain dependence that spooks car companies in the United States, Japan, Europe, and Korea.



Contact: Daniel Wong

Phone: +86-18072358327

Tel: +86-18072358327


Add: YIWU County, Zhejiang Province, China

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