LG Innotek develops strongest eco magnet
40% less heavy rare earth elements than previous iterations Metal Tech News - September 22, 2021
Last updated 9/21/2021 at 1:10pm
LG Innotek Co. Ltd., an affiliate of electronics conglomerate LG, Sept. 15 announced it has developed the world's strongest eco magnet in collaboration with magnet company SGI Co., also minimizing the use of heavy rare earth metals in its production.
As an essential component for electric motors, smartphones, cameras, audio speakers and wind turbines, the demand for heavy rare earths has pushed researchers to devise new ways to optimize material usage without losing performance.
According to the announcement, the eco magnet reduces the use of heavy rare earths by 60% compared to previous products.
These latest magnets purportedly raised the magnetic capability for home appliances and vehicle steering motors to 14.8 kilogauss – magnet strength – beating out Japanese competitors who have led the industry for nearly four decades.
For reference, the technical performance limit of this type of magnet is 15 kG, and already commercialized magnets of this type range between 14.2 and 14.3 kG.
Due to the scarcity of the required rare earths needed for these crucial magnets, LG Innotek began developing the eco magnet in 2017 and has since been focusing on securing the best performance. To this end, LG Innotek joined hands with SGI, of which had an advanced HRE metal reduction technology perfectly suited to Innotek's needs.
As heavy rare earths are an essential component to maintain magnetic force at high temperatures, reducing the amount of these metals potentially decreases the durability of the magnet. Therefore, the challenge lied in enhancing the magnetic force while minimizing materials usage.
By adding new compounds, the two companies developed a coating liquid for the eco magnet that uses less rare earths and produces the strongest magnetic force in various products and temperatures. Additionally, the companies secured a new magnet material perfectly optimized for the coating liquid, thereby enabling LG Innotek's eco magnet to come to fruition.
With this successful development, LG Innotek plans to target global automakers, vehicle component manufacturers, and smartphone companies to quickly expand the magnet's applications to air conditioners, refrigerators, drones, generators and more.
The company even plans to go so far as to seek the development of a non-rare-earth magnet, that does not contain any rare-earth metals at all, whether that is something feasible remains to be seen.
"It is meaningful that LG Innotek supplies the new product with the best performance and quality by developing its core materials in a short period of time using innovative technology," said LG Innotek CTO Minseok Kang. "We will continue to provide differentiated values to customers with the eco magnet."