AI helps quickly develop rare earth-free permanent magnet

MagNex manufacturing process. (Image by Materials Nexus).

Materials Nexus, a UK company using AI to design materials for net-zero technologies, together with the Henry Royce Institute and the University of Sheffield designed and created a new rare earth-free permanent magnet.

Dubbed ‘MagNex,’ the magnet was developed in just three months and, according to Materials Nexus, can be produced at 20% of the material cost and a 70% reduction in material carbon emissions (kg CO2/kg) compared to rare-earth-element magnets currently on the market.

“With an initial focus on magnets, Materials Nexus’ AI platform identified and analyzed over 100 million compositions of rare earth-free permanent magnet candidates that address industry challenges, such as supply chain security, cost, performance, and environmental issues,” the company said in a media statement.

 “The current industry standard permanent magnet took decades to discover and even longer to develop into the products we use today.”

Permanent magnets are essential for manufacturing across a range of growing industries, notably electric vehicles, wind turbines, robotics, and drones. Demand for the rare earths that make up these magnets is expected to outpace the supply in the coming years. However, production of these metals is presently concentrated in only one country, China, thus making them vulnerable to supply chain issues linked to geopolitical tensions.

“I am delighted to share the news of MagNex, a significant milestone in the use of AI to design materials of the future which are cheaper, higher-performing, and more sustainable than existing options,” Jonathan Bean, CEO of Materials Nexus, said.

“AI-powered materials design will impact not only magnetics but also the entire field of materials science – we have now identified a scalable method for designing new materials for all kinds of industrial needs. Our platform has already attracted widespread interest for various products with applications that include semiconductors, catalysts, and coatings,” Bean said.

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.”

Bean pointed out that the novel process of designing permanent magnets can be directed at other high-value areas in the green transition, such as semiconductors, superconductors, and catalysts.