Japan develops vehicle motor free of rare earths
Sunday 03 October 2010
Japanese researchers said Thursday they had developed a hybrid vehicle motor that is free of rare earths, the minerals that are now almost exclusively produced by China.
The news from a state-backed research group and a university comes days after industry sources said China had temporarily halted crucial rare earth exports to Japan amid a bitter territorial dispute.
Magnets made from rare earths have so far been considered indispensable for motors in gasoline-electric hybrid and electric vehicles produced by Japanese auto makers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda.
Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and Hokkaido University said they had now developed a motor using magnets which are commonly used in electronics parts.
"As the technology uses only inexpensive ferrite magnets, it is expected to boost Japan's competitiveness in the development of next-generation automobiles contested more and more fiercely in recent years," they said in a statement.
Kenji Kobayashi, of NEDO, said "ferrite magnets are very cheap as they are mostly iron."
Ferrite magnets are weaker than magnets made from rare earths such as neodymium and dysprosium, which are both imported from China, but sell at only one 20th of their price, he told AFP by telephone.
"Magnets are placed differently in the new motor so that their attraction power does not escape," Kobayashi said, adding however that it would take years to put the technology to practical use.
More than 90 percent of rare earths worldwide are produced in China.
China's rare earths shipments to Japan were disrupted last week amid a bitter diplomatic spat between the two countries, although China has moved towards resuming exports, according to industry sources.
Beijing repeatedly denied claims it blocked the shipments of rare earths, which are used in a range of products from consumer electronics to batteries for hybrid cars and components in wind and solar power.
Life & Style blogs
Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
UK police to start seizing drivers' mobile phones after all crashes
Want to reduce the risk of disease? Abandon shaking hands, and start bumping fists...
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Primark forced to remove skinny-looking mannequin with protruding ribs after customer complaint
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...
£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...
Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...