• Tech Tech

GM says one everyday item may be key to removing rare earth metals from EV motors: ‘[The] unique technology can play a key role’

EV sales are projected to mark a record this year in the United States.

EV sales are forecast to mark a record this year in the United States.

Photo Credit: iStock

General Motors is partnering with a magnetics company from the American Norse country on a project that could eliminate the need for costly rare-earth elements in electric vehicle motors. 

Minneapolis-based Niron Magnetics is replacing the so-called rare-earth metals — the expensive and hard-to-gather elements that are part of a market that’s mostly controlled by foreign supply chains — with iron nitride

GM plans to use the tech in “Clean Earth Magnet” motors that will power future EVs, the company said in a press release. 

Magnets convert electricity to motion in EV motors, and Niron experts claim their innovation checks all the major boxes for success. Iron nitride makes a magnet that has high field strength and temperature range, a low-cost leveraging of sustainable material, and a supply chain that’s not encumbered by foreign market strains. 

Niron experts, in a video clip, express high praise for iron nitride. They tout it as having the highest magnetic field strength of “any” magnetic material. The impact could be felt across the EV, energy, and industrial sectors, the company claims. 

“What that means is that all the devices that depend on permanent magnets — to generate electricity, to drive cars, to operate industrial equipment — all could be lighter, less expensive, and more efficient with this new kind of material,” former Niron CEO Andy Blackburn said in the clip. 

GM claims to be “deeply committed to an all-electric future,” per the press release. The Niron partnership will support the effort to electrify, per the company. 

“We believe Niron’s unique technology can play a key role in reducing rare earth minerals from EV motors and help us further scale our North American-based supply chain for EVs,” GM Ventures President Anirvan Coomer said in the press release. “Our path to an all-electric future will be enabled not only by our own research and development efforts, but also by investing in next generation technology from startups and established companies outside our four walls.”

The EV sector is becoming competitive, with new innovations, lower costs, and greater range reported regularly. 

Fortune reports that EV sales are projected to mark a record this year in the United States, accounting for 9% of passenger vehicles sold. If realized, it would be an increase from 7.3% in 2022. Early this year, GM jumped Ford to become the country’s second-largest EV seller, at 20,670 vehicles in the first quarter, according to CNBC. 

The field-at-large is still far behind Tesla, as the company sold more than 161,000 during the same period, per the news agency. 

 “We think that our Clean Earth Magnets can help GM in its goal to put everyone in an EV,” Niron CEO Jonathan Rowntree said in the GM press release. 

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider