Japan's Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. has recently developed a new high-performance motor magnet that halved the amount of rare earth metal lanthanum.
Niobium is a silver-white rare earth metal, which is the main material added to magnets for air conditioning and hybrid electric motors in order to have heat resistance. The weight of the air conditioner motor magnet is about 5%, and it is about 10% in the hybrid motor magnet. The current technology is to solidify and melt the tantalum and iron and niobium, and the new technology is to coat the surface of the magnet after the other materials are solidified, which greatly reduces the amount of niobium used. With this technology, the use of air conditioner motor magnets can be halved.
Motor and electronic components companies such as Hitachi and Tokyo Electric Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. (TDK) are developing high-performance motors and magnets that do not use rare earth metals, and progress has been mixed. However, it seems that Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. is using technology to reduce the use of rare earth metals more quickly. The company has invested more than one billion yen in equipment.
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