Mitsubishi, Molycorp and Daido Steel Co. have formed a joint venture to manufacture and market neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent rare-earth magnets, which the companies say are ideal for use in electric and hybrid vehicle powertrains.
Intermetallics Inc. – a partnership of Mitsubishi, Daido and Dr. Masato Sagawa, co-inventor of the NdFeB magnet – is licensing the technology to the joint venture firm, which is being financed by the three shareholders and a Japanese government subsidy. The technology yields magnets that offer ‘greater performance with less reliance on dysprosium, a relatively scarce rare earth,’ the companies say.
The firm plans to construct a 500 metric-ton-per-year magnet manufacturing facility in Nakatsugawa, Japan. Construction will begin next month, and operations are expected to begin by January 2013.
The joint venture, which has been provisionally awarded a supply agreement from a major automotive manufacturer, will ‘eventually expand operations in the U.S. and elsewhere,’ the companies add.