Magnets are substances that have an attractive property and attract typical metals. Though there are many different types of magnets, rare earth magnets are the strongest magnets available. These strong magnets have a huge application in the industry especially the clean energy industry, and are used extensively in the production of electric vehicle motors and wind turbine generators.
China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth magnets. It extracts close to 95% of the world’s rare earth minerals and has cut off the export of these minerals ever since 2010. However, along with supply chain concerns, mining for these rare earth minerals is highly disastrous to the environment.
Neodymium magnets constitute the majority of the rare earth magnets. However a recent innovation has led to the production of strong magnets that do not need any rare earth inputs. Rare earth magnets are typically made of Neodymium but this new process has been able to develop a magnet which has twice as much magnetic energy as Neodymium magnets. The new magnets are composed of iron nitride with a theoretical magnetic energy of 130 mega gauss oersteds, more than twice that of neodymium magnets.
In the earlier days any work with iron nitride yielded mostly powders or thin films, that could not be used for most applications. However this new process allows bulk fabrication of iron nitride which can be used for a number of applications. Fortunately this fabrication process is similar with existing mass production techniques while inputs like iron and nitrogen are easy and cheap to get, which allows for the production of cheap permanent magnets with more performance than rare earth magnets.
Some of the features of Iron Nitride permanent magnets that make it more appealing than conventional earth magnets include.
- Low cost of production using common iron and nitrogen inputs. There is no need for rare earth minerals in this process.
- Its theoretical strength exceeds that of the rare earth magnets by as much as twice the power
- Their production does not harm the environment or lead to pollution.
- The process to fabricate them is similar to current product techniques for strong magnets.
- They can be used in a wide variety of applications including electric motors, wind turbines and electronics.
These features of iron nitride magnets can be used in a variety of applications and machines and they will definitely have a huge impact on the industry.