Samarium Cobalt Permanent Magnets to Help Power Hybrids?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As 'Mater says in Cars, you hurt your what? I don't pretend to understand this hi-tech stuff, but I know a man who does. Know, I mean; not pretend to know. He's R. Colin Johnson of the EETimes (I wonder what he made of Wally's Eeeeeeva). Seems there's a nano (nano) technology breakthrough that lowers the cost of producing rare earth magnets (not magnets to pull Earth out of orbit, presumably). And that's a good thing, not a bad thing. "Rare earth magnets are essential to NASA and [the Defense Department] for small, high-performance motors and power generators that can operate in high-temperature environments," according to C.N. Chinnasamy of Northeastern University's Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials and Integrated Circuits (NUCMMMIC). "With our process, they can be manufactured much more economically." Got it? To paraphrase Ariel, oh Flounder, don't be such a nanoblade dipole! "Other techniques for creating supermagnets composed of nanoblade dipoles have succeeded for high operating temperatures, but the rare earth magnets performed poorly at start-up when the magnets operated at room temperature. However, Northeastern University researchers claim their formulation performs well both at room temperature and at very high operating temperatures, thereby permitting applications such as smaller motors with the same performance as larger engines."

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
5 of 11 comments
  • EJ_San_Fran EJ_San_Fran on Aug 05, 2008

    Funny how the world is becoming dependent on rare earth metals. They are mined in exactly one country. China!

  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Aug 05, 2008

    I've always wondered if electric motor drivetrains would move down to truck/car scales (from rail locomotive scale). Maybe this is a breakthrough that's needed - although I'm sure implementation is at least a decade away.

  • Usta Bee Usta Bee on Aug 05, 2008

    Samarium Cobalt magnets are nothing new for electric motors. I used to use them back in the 70's for slot car racing.

    • JenJag JenJag on Nov 03, 2010

      Old thread I know, but .... In about 1980 Dragonfly research made a one off sportscar with cobalt/samarium permanent magnets. One motor an integral part of each rear hub. This was a diesel-electric hybrid with a small constant speed stationary diesel charging the batteries. The result was really good for the technology available at the time. So nothing really new.

  • Smart boy Smart boy on Aug 06, 2008

    This is not just a toy magnet but JUST nanomagnets. A major component of the HEV is the electrical machine (traction motor) used to drive the wheels. The traction motor employs a number of permanent magnets (PMs). Energy product is directly proportional to the energy stored per unit volume of the magnet; the torque produced by a PM electric motor is approximately proportional to the energy product of the PM. Increasing the energy product of the PM will proportionally increase the torque. Therefore, increasing the energy product will reduce the weight and size of the PM required to generate the same torque. Furthermore, reducing the weight and size of the PM may reduce the size of the entire motor required to generate the same torque. This will further reduce the overall weight of the motor and increase the mileage of the HEV. Only problem: We (USA) have to depend on China since rare earth ores are mostly deposited in China.