Ames Lab workforce improves rare-earth-free MnBi magnets via microstructure engineering


Researchers from the Division of Vitality’s Crucial Supplies Institute (CMI) and Ames Nationwide Laboratory have improved the properties of a rare-earth-free everlasting magnet materials and demonstrated the method might be upscaled for manufacturing. The researchers developed a brand new technique of producing manganese bismuth (MnBi) magnets primarily based on microstructure engineering. This course of is a step in direction of making compact, energy-efficient motors with out using uncommon earths.

A paper on their work is revealed within the Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Supplies.

MnBi is a candidate materials for high-temperature magnets due to its growing coercivity with growing temperatures as much as 255 °C. Nonetheless, most efforts in fabricating bulk MnBi magnets have run into the issue of preserving the coercivity (Hcj) of its feedstock powders. About 70% of powder’s Hcj could be misplaced through the densification course of.

Our micromagnetic modeling reveals that the coercivity mechanism of the MnBi bulk magnet is managed by nucleation of the reversal magnetization domains, and the big Hcj loss that occurred through the powder consolidation course of might be attributed to the inter-grain magnetic coupling. To achieve a excessive Hcj, the grains within the MnBi bulk magnet have to be separated with a non-magnetic grain boundary part (GBP).

To validate this GBP speculation, we engineered MnBi bulk magnets with two several types of GBP. The primary sort of GBP was created in-situ by precipitating extreme Bi from the grains; the second sort was created ex-situ by coating silicates on the feedstock powders earlier than the consolidation. Whereas each GBP work, the ex-situ method resulted in a greater Hcj resulting from a extra uniform GBP distribution. The Hcj loss was decreased from 70% to fifteen%, and the (BH)max of a heat sintered bulk magnet reached 8.9 MGOe.

—Tang et al.

Everlasting magnets used for motors require excessive vitality density, or excessive ranges of magnetism and coercivity. Coercivity is a magnet’s potential to keep up its present degree of magnetism, regardless of publicity to excessive warmth and outdoors influences that would demagnetize it.

The problem with MnBi is that conventional manufacturing strategies require excessive warmth to rework the person supplies into a big magnet. The mandatory warmth reduces the vitality density of the magnet. To handle this drawback, the workforce developed another course of.

The researchers began with a really tremendous powder for every of the supplies, which will increase the beginning magnetic vitality degree. Subsequent, they used a heat heating technique fairly than a high-temperature technique for forming the magnet. Lastly, the important thing to their new course of was so as to add a non-magnetic element that will hold the grain particles from touching one another. This extra component, known as a grain boundary part, gives extra construction to the magnet, and retains the magnetism operating via particular person particles/grains from affecting each other.

Graph abstract

Grain boundaries and magnetism. (a) Reveals the magnetic MnBi particles/grains individually within the powder. (b) Reveals the “bulk” model, the place the particles/grains are actually touching due to the method of forming the magnet with none added grain boundary supplies. (c) Reveals the MnBi grains coated with the grain boundary materials, illustrating how the grains are now not touching. The graph illustrates the demagnetization of the magnet within the bulk and powder phases.

The impact of the nice and cozy temperature on the magnetic properties of MnBi is exclusive. The researchers anticipated the coercivity and magnetism to lower with growing temperature, which is true for many magnetic supplies. Nonetheless, for MnBi, the nice and cozy temperature elevated the coercivity and decreased the magnetization. This elevated coercivity helps to maintain the magnet extra steady at elevated temperatures than different identified magnets.

The workforce additionally targeted on making bigger magnets, in comparison with the usually small magnets developed in labs. Upsizing the magnets helps to display to the manufacturing firms that they’ll construct massive magnets on a business scale.

The workforce is at the moment working with PowderMet Inc., utilizing their patent-pending methods to pursue mass manufacturing of the MnBi magnets to be used in novel electrical motors. That venture is funded by the DOE Small Enterprise Innovation Analysis program. The venture has already entered part II.


  • Wei Tang, Gaoyuan Ouyang, Xubo Liu, Jing Wang, Baozhi Cui, Jun Cui (2022) “Engineering microstructure to enhance coercivity of bulk MnBi magnet,” Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Supplies, doi: 10.1016/j.jmmm.2022.169912


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