Game changer alloy ‘cerium’ to bring down engine cost of wind trubines, cars soon

Indian-origin Scientist Arjun Pathak arc melts material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet. (AMES)

Indian-origin Scientist Arjun Pathak arc melts material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet. (AMES)

The rare-earth element ‘Dysprosium’, highly expensive and rarely available, will soon be replaced with an alternative to this traditionally used material called ‘Dysprosium’, said a team of researchers from AMES Lab in the US.

The element dysprosium is used in high performance permanent magnets that are used in car engines and wind turbines and cerium can replace the element abnd bring down the cost of new alloy by 20 to 40% cheaper now, said researchers.

Scientists at US government’s AMES laboratory Karl A. Gschneidner, Arjun Pathak and Mahmud Khan among others, have found the new magnetic alloy that used ‘Cerium’ that consists of iron, neodymium and boron co-doped with cerium and cobalt.

Researchers also believe that the new alloy is a game changer in giving tough competition to the sintered magnets, which have been in use for decades now.

The new alloy with cerium can resist de-magnetisation at high temperatures such as 150° Celsius or above, making it more suitable for use as a permanent magnent in high-temperature applications.

“We found that this material works better than anything out there at temperatures above 150° C,” said Gschneidner. “It’s an important consideration for high-temperature applications.”

Previous attempts to use cerium in rare-earth magnets failed because it reduces the Curie temperature or the temperature above which an alloy loses its permanent magnet properties. But the AMES team discovered that co-doping with cobalt made the difference and allowed them to substitute cerium for dysprosium without losing desired magnetic properties.

Finding a comparable substitute material for dysprosium was one of the most sought-after researches for long as it was a rare earth element and the demand for it far outpaces mining and recycling sources for it. The research was funded by the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E REACT program.

The paper, “Cerium: An Unlikely Replacement of Dysprosium in High Performance Nd-Fe-B Permanent Magnets” was published in Advanced Materials, and co-authored by Arjun K. Pathak, Mahmud Khan, Karl. A. Gschneidner, Ralph W. McCallum, Lin Zhou, Kewei Sun, Kevin W. Dennis, Matthew J. Kramer and Vitalij Pecharsky of the Ames Laboratory; Chen Zhou of MEDA Engineering and Technical Services LLC; and Frederik E. Pinkerton of General Motors R&D Center.

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