Skip to comments.Hitachi unveils motor without 'rare earths'
Posted on 04/12/2012 5:48:31 AM PDT by Abathar
TOKYO Japanese high-tech firm Hitachi Wednesday unveiled an electric motor that does not use "rare earths", aiming to cut costs and reduce dependence on imports of the scarce minerals from China.
The prototype 11 kilowatt motor does not use magnets containing rare earths and is expected to go into commercial production in 2014, the company said.
Hitachi started work on the project on 2008. Other Japanese firms, including automaker Toyota, have been working towards the same goal, spurred on by high prices of the minerals.
Permanent magnet motors usually contain rare earth such as neodymium and dysprosium and are in increasing demand for the growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Japan has been seeking to reduce its dependence on rare earths and to diversify sourcing to cut its reliance on China, which controls more than 90 percent of global supplies and has moved to restrict production and exports.
(Excerpt) Read more at google.com ...
I wonder how much of our old war stockpiles have been reduced or even eliminated on key elements like cobalt, titanium, molybdenum and tungsten. Do we still have them or have we sold them off, anyone know?
Well, it’s no problem to make a motor without these, the question is how efficient can they be. If the efficiency is just as good and the price is lower, this is a great breakthrough.
This goes back to Julian Simon and his basket of commodities. No commodity ever gets too ridiculous, because when the price starts to get too high, alternatives are found.
An interesting note:
These minerals do not come from China. They come from Africa. Which China has been scooping up and mining heavily for the last 10 years or more.
But if you want them, you have to go see the Chicoms.
Similarly, rather than using a more scarce rare earth, a less scarce rare earth(US sourced) can be used. In this case you see MolyCorp the rare earth producer investing in Boulder Wind Power the wind turbine developer.
Stockpiling was largely done away with because ordinary commercial supplies and stockpiles had become so large and abundant due to the development of civilian high tech industries.
Almost all electric vehicles I have seen use 3-phase induction motors.
“Dependence on China” for rare earths is an overblown issue. They don’t have a particularly large share of the materials the way (for example) the Middle East has a large share of the remaining oil supply — it’s just cheaper to mine there. There are plenty of alternative sources in (for example) South America; if China tries to cut exports, prices will rise a bit and those alternatives sites will become economically competitive.
That’s also true. In fact, much of the expense of extracting these elements is separating them from each other because they’re so chemically similar that they’re generally all mixed together and it’s hard to disentangle them.
Actually, the big breakthrough was several decades ago with the development of the rare earth magnets. These allowed smaller, cheaper, lighter, and more efficient motors. Permanent Magnet motors have long been made without rare earth magnets.
Weight is the big issue I think. I know we can make permanent magnet motors, but I believe they weigh a lot more which is fine for many industrial applications but certainly not vehicles.
This improves the field strength for a given wire weight and current forced through them.
This offsets (some %, not all) the loss of opposing field strength due to reverting back to regular magnets in the rotor instead of stronger rare earth magnets.
This same rotor enhancement could of course be used with rare earth rotors to advance motor tech even further forward (lighter/same power, or same weight/more power). And those who have the better magnets will always have an advantage.
So here we have the state of technology in Obama's world. Not great advances by American's wielding the world's resources. But Japanese attempting to tread performance water due to Chinese domination of natural resources.
It's like "jobs created or saved." It's a technology "advance or marginal tradeoff."
This same field coil enhancement could of
Switched reluctance motors have been around a while.
(no magnets)((similar to induction motors)
“Rare Earths” are in fact incredibly common, the problem is identifying and seperating them. The name is a bit of a misnomer and there is a rare earth mine in the US if I am not mistake getting ready to launch in an attempt to counter China’s dominance in the arena.
Just how ‘permanent’ are permanent magnets?
How long until they notabley degrade the efficiency of your hybrid, windmill, harddrive...?
What’s the schedule of magnet replacement for a GM Volt?
Is it less then the 20+ year payback period?
That mine began operating in 1952 with a 50 year permit. In the early 90s, MolyCorp decided that there were additional materials to be mined so that began the process of repermitting for when the original permit expired(2002).
The new permit would be for 35 years with 5 years to expand the mine, 25 years to mine, and 5 years to de-commission.
It was during the 90s that MolyCorp had a spill of radioactive waste and the bottom fell out of the rare earth market. These two things delyed the new permit until 2004, at which time prices were still depressed so they didn't begin mining again, although they were still processing some out of the tailings.
But eventually China emerged as the main supplier because the govt was subsidizing and allowing pollution.
Then a group of private investors bought MolyCorp and developed a new business plans to not just mine and seperate but to also get involved in applications, say like "mining to magnets".
The other potential mine is US Rare Earths in Idaho.
Very few investors want to stick their neck out on rare earths because China can quickly change their export policies and undermine those who are making a long term investment to get into the industry.
For now, if you are in a business that uses these rare earths, it better to locate you business in China so as to avoid the higher costs of the export tariffs that China is imposing on foreign buyers.
Ultimately China will lose when the case is decided at the WTO, but in the meantime they will reap the rewards.
For the same horsepower, PM motors do weigh more than electromagnetic field motors, but are much more efficient in electricity usage. They don’t require electric current to magnetize the fields. In electric vehicles, the efficiency gain in electricity usage can more than offset the efficiency loss due to increased weight, all other things being equal.
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