Molycorp, DOE to Develop Improved Rare Earth Magnets

Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), the western hemisphere’s only producer of rare earths, announced that it has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

The Molycorp-Ames Laboratory effort will focus on developing new methods to create commercial-grade rare earth permanent magnets.

These magnets are key components to many clean energy technologies such as wind turbines and electric motors.

"This is a significant first step toward a long and mutually beneficial relationship between these two committed entities," said Karl Gschneidner Jr., who will lead the research efforts at the Ames Laboratory. "The Ames Laboratory-Molycorp partnership will serve to re-energize applied rare earth research in the U.S., and will begin to ameliorate the current void in intellectual infrastructure in rare earths by training undergraduates, graduate, and post-doctoral students and providing them with research opportunities."

Ames Laboratory scientists will investigate several compositions of rare earth materials and processing techniques with the goal of making permanent rare earth magnets with properties comparable to currently available neodymium-iron-boron magnets. The material combinations studied will correspond with the relative concentrations of rare earth elements in Molycorp’s Mountain Pass mine, using techniques that are more cost effective and leave a smaller environmental footprint than current methods.

Currently, China holds a vast monopoly on the production of rare earth elements. And with domestic manufacturing growing in China, the country is reducing its exports, which could put US cleantech and electronics manufacturers in a pinch.

Gschneidner, Burba, and Vitalij Pecharsky, an Ames Laboratory senior scientist, will serve as principle investigators on the project.

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Comments on “Molycorp, DOE to Develop Improved Rare Earth Magnets”

  1. SouthToe

    I think Mark Smith and M0lycorp is going a long way in making us a proud country again. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

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