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Novel Materials to Mitigate Rare Earth (RE) Criticality in High Speed Motors

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Additive Manufacturing, ExchangeSpring Magnetism, Extractive Metallurgy, Generator, Material Processing, Mining, Motor, Rare Earth Element REE, Rare Earth Materials REM, Rare Earth Permanent Magnet, Rare Earth Separation, Recycling, REO


To support and provide direction to AVT concerns regarding materials criticality, a Specialist Meeting (AVT-231) was held in Brussels, Belgium, 2014 entitled "Scarcity of Rare Earth (RE) Materials (REM) for Electrical Power Systems" (Prof M. E. McHenry, Technical Evaluator). In addition to a comprehensive set of meeting proceedings, two NATO restricted Advice Papers followed in 2015. Regular team meetings were facilitated by conference calls and the group met with Technology Briefings and planning efforts at, AVT PBW Rzeszow, Poland, Apr. 20-24, 2015; Prague, Czech Republic, Oct. 12-17, 2015; and Tallinn, Estonia, April 29, 2016; A recommendation to provide educational outreach was accomplished through a Research Lecture Series (RLS-285, 2016-17) at venues in Canada, Germany (General Electric Research), and Spain and a Technical Course (RTC-286) was taught at NATO HQ in Brussels and at NATO ACT in Norfolk VA in 2016-2017. Following these activities an AVT Exploratory Team (AVT-ET-188) was established in April 2018 to explore S&T solutions to the RE criticality and dependency on China. AVT-ET-188 concluded that efforts to secure alternative RE supply chains along with S&T efforts to pursue new high speed electrical machine materials and topologies that reduced demand for critical rare earth elements (REE) were required to address the concerns arising from RE criticality and dependency on China.



Rare Earth Elements (REE) are strategically important because of their unmatched performance and inclusion in all advanced NATO weapons and infrastructure to include communications, monitoring, transportation, and power generation. Their use ranges from Virginia class submarines to Aegis Destroyers, F-35 Lightning to precision guided munitions. There are concerns across NATO nations because the majority of the rare earth supply chain, including manufacturing capabilities, are dominated by government controlled state owned enterprises in a non-NATO nation - China. The world demand and competition for REEs is increasing due to growth in commercial electronics, electric vehicle industry, and renewable energy. These growing markets lessen the supply for military uses. Greater use of REEs are in the form of permanent magnets as the main building blocks for electrical machinery whether in the form of motors or generators. The Athens meeting concluded that the most important future ventures to mitigate the REE criticality include: (1) securing alternative RE supply chains and (2) identify new materials for high speed machinery, processing and topologies that reduce demand for REEs. This RTG addresses the latter. One technology that addresses that are hybrid motors based on hard and soft magnetic technologies exploiting rare earth free or rare earth lean permanent magnet-based stators and metal amorphous nanocomposites (MANC)-based rotors, which offer high power densities due to their ability to magnetically switch at higher frequencies than conventional Silicon-steels and FeCo-based magnets. This RTG aims at identifying novel motor topologies that exploit such materials as well as improvements to the materials and materials processing including rapid solidification processing and advanced manufacturing techniques. The impact of the technology for military technologies lies both in improvements in electric machine efficiencies as well as a resulting reduced demand for critical rare earth materials.

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