2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Clean Energy Magnets

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Peter Mullner


We rely on strong magnets for the clean energy transition. Clean energy technologies requiring magnets include electric motors, wind turbines, data storage systems, sensors and many others. Currently, the only economically viable magnets meeting the requirements for these technologies contain rare earth minerals. Mining and refining these minerals poses significant environmental hazards and is primarily done overseas. Dependence on foreign rare earth minerals presents a severe national security risk. A rare-earth-element-free magnet with comparable properties containing only elements that can be domestically sourced would substantially improve national security and the US economy. In the Clean Energy Magnets project, we aim to produce a rare-earth-free magnet and build an electric motor with it. A known material composed of accessible and environmentally friendly elements--iron, nickel, phosphorus, and carbon-- has magnetic properties comparable to the most commonly used rare earth magnet: neodymium-iron-boron. We have fabricated an alloy of this material, are developing a process to turn the raw alloy into a permanent magnet, and have built an electric motor to implement our magnets in.

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