Boosting Domestic Production of Neodymium and Rare Earth Magnets

Boosting Domestic Production of Neodymium and Rare Earth Magnets


Recently, Technology Development Board (TDB) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved funding for M/s Midwest Advanced Materials Private Limited (MAM) in Hyderabad to enhance domestic production of critical materials and technologies.

GS-03 (Science and technology)

Key highlights:

  • The project is focused on advancing the commercial manufacturing of Neodymium materials and Rare Earth Permanent Magnets, crucial for e-mobility applications.
  • It aims to create an integrated production module for Rare Earth (RE) magnets starting from oxides. It utilizes a modified Metal Extraction method through Molten Salt Electrolysis (MSE) technology, incorporating an eco-friendly electrolysis process with proprietary cell designs.

Neodymium Magnets:

  • Invention and Composition: Invented in 1980 by General Motors and Sumitomo Special Metals, neodymium magnets are composed of neodymium, iron, boron, and a few transition metals. These are known as NdFeB or Neo magnets.
  • Properties: Despite their high strength, neodymium magnets are lightweight. They are highly susceptible to corrosion, which makes surface treatment necessary.
  • Types of Neodymium Magnets:
    • Sintered NdFeB Magnets: Made by melting raw materials, casting into molds, cooling, pulverizing into powder, sintering into blocks, heat-treating, and surface treating to prevent corrosion.
    • Bonded NdFeB Magnets: Made by melting and spinning a thin ribbon of NdFeB alloy, pulverizing it into particles, mixing with a polymer, and molding into shape.
  • Technological Importance: Neodymium magnets are pivotal in current technological advancements due to their high strength and light weight.
  • Manufacturing Process:
    • Sintered Magnets: Involve melting, casting, cooling, pulverizing, sintering, heat-treating, and surface treatment.
    • Bonded Magnets: Involve melting, spinning, pulverizing, mixing with a polymer, and molding.

Applications of Neodymium Magnets:

  • Hard Disk Drives: Used in magnetic cells for data storage.
  • Audio Devices: Utilized in loudspeakers, microphones, and headphones for converting electricity to mechanical energy.
  • Medical Uses: Employed in dentures and MRI scanners.
  • Safety and Security: Used in door catches and anti-lock brake sensors in vehicles.
  • Jewelry and Displays: Applied in magnetic jewelry and point-of-sale advertising displays.
  • E-vehicles: They are also essential for electric vehicle propulsion systems and generators in renewable energy infrastructure.