Dy-Free Solution

Higher REE prices have resulted in the increase of Nd-Fe-B magnet prices by 300% or more in some cases. Sintered Nd-Fe-B magnet prices have not only been impacted by both Nd and Pr prices, but also by the soaring price of dysprosium (Dy). The dollar value of Dy in a standard Nd-Fe-B magnet is 50% greater than that of Nd and Pr, even though the weight of Nd and Pr is eight times that of Dy.

The rate of Dy consumption is expected to increase as relatively Dy-rich sintered Nd-Fe-B applications continue to proliferate. The demand for sintered Nd-Fe-B magnets is estimated to reach over 100,000 MT, translating to about 4,000MT of Dy. While the demand for Dy is growing, the supply of Dy is not because Dy concentrations found in typical heavy rare earth deposits range from only 3% to 8% with only a mere 500MT being recovered per year. Many companies, including Magnequench's parent company Molycorp Inc., have embarked on new exploration and mining projects inside and outside China - however the vast majority of these projects contain primarily light rare earths and only limited amounts of Dy.

This fundamental supply-demand imbalance for Dy will result in long-term price rises. Given the likely rising costs of sintered Nd-Fe-B magnets, many consumers are considering utilizing alternative materials that do not rely on Dy.

Why is bonded neo a better solution?

In most cases, it is difficult or impractical to implement sintered Nd-Fe-B without Dy. However, bonded Nd-Fe-B magnets do not rely on Dy and offer equivalent performance to sintered Nd-Fe-B magnets for certain applications operating up to 180°C.

A simple motor case study illustrates that using sintered Nd-Fe-B without Dy is not feasible. Without Dy, sintered Nd-Fe-B magnets are much more inclined to have a "knee" in the second quadrant engineering curve at elevated temperature, as indicated by points A and B in Figure 3. The knee is largely due to the high remanence values of sintered Nd-Fe-B and can result in irreversible losses in a motor. These irreversible losses occur when the magnet's load line intersects the engineering curve below the knee point as shown below.

MQP-AA4

In contrast, isotropic bonded Nd-Fe-B magnets, such as those made from MQP™ powder grades, have very good linearity in the second quadrant engineering curve up to temperatures of 180°C. Hence, even without Dy, bonded Nd-Fe-B magnets offer equivalent performance to sintered Nd-Fe-B magnets for applications operating up to 180°C, without a significant increase in motor size.

Since all MQP™ grades are Dy free, bonded Nd-Fe-B magnets will not be impacted by the impending supply-demand constraints and the resulting price increase. This will make an MQP™ based solution ideal and less expensive in many applications.