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04 09 2018 03

In the 2013 project to evaluate the availability of rare earth metals to manufacturing, eight Fraunhofer Institutes bundled their competencies to find new solution for a more efficient use of these rare resources, particularly in electric motors.

The results, which were recently presented, include optimized production processes, concepts for recycling, and new materials, which could potentially replace rare-earth materials. Using the example of electric motors, the Fraunhofer researchers were able to prove that the current demand for rare-earth materials, particularly Dysprosium and Neodymium, could be reduced to one fifth of the current usage.

The research objects were two electric motors, a small drivetrain and a traction drive. Project spokesperson Prof. Ralf B. Wehrspohn said that their initial target had been to halve the use of rare earth materials on these benchmark motors. By combining different technical approaches, they were able to meet this goal and even go beyond their expectations. Many current motor configurations work with permanent-magnets, which rely on rare-earth materials. Wehrspohn noted that the amount of such systems would increase drastically in the near future due to e-mobility trends.

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