The project proposes a new solid state processing technology which will transform how current magnets are fabricated, resulting in a dramatic cost decrease and significant reduction of the rare earth (RE) content while actually enhancing the magnetic performance of the magnets. This will be accomplished by a revolutionary solid-state processing technique called Friction Consolidation and Extrusion (FC&E). Processing of sintered (Nd, Dy)-Fe-B type magnets in use today require 2-4 wt.% excess RE elements relative to the stoichiometric compound, with up to 4-10 wt. % of the alloy being Dy. The new class of exchange coupled hard / soft nanocomposite magnets have been theoretically predicted to be twice as strong as the current state of the art rare earth magnets, while the total RE content can be reduced by 30% or more. The challenge remains to develop a reliable and economical process to produce a 100% dense alloy with nanoscale grains, full magnetic alignment and a uniformly distributed nanoscale soft magnetic phase. The role of The Ames Laboratory will be to 1) determine optimal length scales of the nano-structuring using advance computational tools, 2) provide feedstock for the FC&E process, 3) characterize high performance magnet alloys produced by the PNNL for their microstructure and phase distributions using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA) and Transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.