Significant efficiency gains for standby power systems, wind turbines and electric vehicles is promised by new magnet technology developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

The Hymag system increases the usable magnetic flux density of a permanent magnet by 10% to 30%. These magnets are also less cost-intensive and more environmentally sustainable relative to conventional permanent magnets, as 60% to 90% fewer rare earth materials are consumed.

The advance stems from the combination of hybrid layers of material in a way that limits flux leakage. The magnets can be tailored for specific applications, such as a device that can operate at the 150˚ C maximum allowable temperature of an electric vehicle motor. A design that is not demagnetized at temperatures up to 300˚ C can be specified for wind turbines.

The ability to downsize the powerful magnets could help reduce use of weight-bearing and support materials of the outer casings needed for direct-drive wind turbines. Smaller casings could be designed into taller towers, allowing the turbines to access stronger winds.

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