Niron Magnetics gets $25 million to develop rare earth-free magnet

US startup Niron Magnetics has received funding of $25 million for its rare earth-free permanent magnet project from Korean investor Samsung Ventures, US transmission maker Allison Transmission and Canadian automotive supplier Magna, it said on Tuesday February 20

Niron said it is developing iron nitride magnets, which do not contain any rare earth elements. It was founded in 2014 and originated from the University of Minnesota.

Niron plans to use the funds to expand its US production facilities in Minneapolis and aims to start producing 1,000 kg per year of iron nitride magnets by the end of 2024, the company told Fastmarkets.

The startup received $33 million last November from the investment arms of automotive manufacturers General Motors and Stellantis. In 2022, it was awarded $17.5 million by the US Department of Energy.

Niron is developing “the world’s first commercial high-performance rare earth-free permanent magnet based entirely on low-cost, sustainable input materials,” according to the company’s website.

Industry participants are closely following developments.

“The industry is waiting for Niron to publish magnet data sheets to help the speculation that tends to occur in the vacuum of uncertainty.”

John Ormerod, head of magnetics and metal consultancy JOC

“The biggest issue with the key component of these [iron nitride] materials (Fe16N2) is its relatively low anisotropy field compared with neodymium-iron-boron alloy (Nd2Fe14B), the top rare earth magnet material today. This translates to a lower resistance to demagnetization, which makes [iron nitride] an unlikely candidate for an electric vehicle traction drive motor,” Ormerod said.

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