General Motors and Niron Magnetics have formed a strategic partnership to co-develop Clean Earth Magnet motor technology for GM electric vehicles, GM Ventures said.
GM Ventures' investment in Niron means the Minneapolis-based business will become one of GM’s 30-plus portfolio companies and will help Niron scale manufacturing and commercialize sustainable magnets, according to GM, which said EV motors are a key element of its Ultium Platform.
However, permanent magnets in EV motor rotors are typically made from rare-earth minerals, like terbium, dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium, which are expensive and currently processed almost entirely overseas.
Niron Magnetics instead produces a permanent magnet with automotive-grade power without using rare or heavy rare-earth minerals. The company’s Clean Earth Magnet technology is built on iron nitride, a plentiful and cost-effective material with potential for future use in commercial EVs, GM said.
“We believe Niron’s unique technology can play a key role in reducing rare earth minerals from EV motors and help us further scale our North American-based supply chain for EVs,” said Anirvan Coomer, president of GM Ventures, in a press release. “Our path to an all-electric future will be enabled not only by our own research and development efforts but also by investing in next generation technology from startups and established companies outside our four walls.”
GM is taking steps to reduce the need for rare-earth minerals in EVs following China’s efforts to restrict supplies of other such materials.
Reuters reported in October that China would require export permits for some graphite products, a material used in nearly all EVs after earlier reporting that China restricted access to gallium and germanium products used in vehicle components and computer chips.
Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today