As the demand for rare earth materials continues to grow, innovative solutions are emerging to address this need. UK deep-tech company Materials Nexus has announced the development of a new rare-earth-free permanent magnet, created using its advanced AI platform. This AI-driven process was 200 times faster than traditional methods, offering a promising alternative in a world increasingly reliant on powerful magnets.

With the shift from internal combustion engines to electric mobility, the need for compact, high-power motors is skyrocketing. Currently, permanent magnet motors are the dominant choice in the automotive industry, powering over 80% of modern electric vehicles (EVs). Materials Nexus projects that the demand for permanent magnets in the EV sector alone will increase tenfold by 2030. Beyond automotive applications, these magnets are essential in robotics, drones, wind turbines, and HVAC systems.

The production of the most powerful magnets, which use rare earth materials like neodymium and dysprosium, involves environmentally damaging mining and costly, energy-intensive processing. China, the leading player in this market, controls approximately 70% of global rare earth mining and nearly 90% of processing, creating a quasi-monopoly that leaves other markets vulnerable to supply disruptions and price fluctuations.

As the search for alternatives intensifies, some companies are developing magnet-free motors, while others, like Tesla, are exploring rare-earth-free permanent magnet designs. However, creating effective rare-earth-free magnets is challenging. For instance, Niron Magnetics has been developing high-performance rare-earth-free magnets using iron and nitrogen for over a decade but has yet to achieve mass production.

Materials Nexus aims to revolutionize this field with its AI platform, which drastically accelerates the discovery and development of rare-earth-free magnetic materials. The AI can identify suitable materials within days or weeks, compared to the years or decades required by traditional methods.

Using its AI platform, Materials Nexus discovered a rare-earth-free permanent magnet called MagNex. The AI evaluated over 100 million material compositions, considering factors such as cost, supply chain security, performance, and environmental impact. The company then synthesized and tested MagNex in collaboration with the Henry Royce Institute at the University of Sheffield, completing years of work within just three months.

MagNex offers significant advantages, including a 20% reduction in material costs and a 70% decrease in material carbon emissions compared to current rare earth magnets.

The success of MagNex demonstrates the potential of Materials Nexus’ AI platform, which can be applied across various industries to identify and develop next-generation materials. These materials could drive new technologies and reduce CO2 emissions. Materials Nexus plans to collaborate with industrial partners to accelerate the discovery of sustainable, cost-effective materials.

“Our platform has already attracted widespread interest for various products, including semiconductors, catalysts, and coatings,” said Materials Nexus CEO Dr. Jonathan Bean. “I look forward to seeing the role it will play in supporting market demand for the creation of novel materials to help address increasingly pressing supply chain and environmental issues.”

Materials Nexus’ AI-driven approach to developing rare-earth-free magnets represents a significant leap forward in material science, promising faster, more efficient solutions to meet growing global demands while addressing environmental and supply chain challenges.

By Impact Lab