Niron Magnetics Partners with General Motors and Marquette University to Develop Drivetrains for Electric Vehicles using Rare-Earth Free Materials

U.S. Department of Energy funded project aims to develop more cost effective and sustainable drivetrain for electric vehicles utilizing Niron’s Clean Earth Magnet™ technology

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Niron Magnetics, the company that has developed the world’s first advanced manufacturing process for the mass production of high performance, rare-earth free permanent magnets, today announced a partnership with Marquette University and General Motors to develop the next generation of electric vehicle drivetrains through a $5 million grant from the Department of Energy.

Demand for electric and hybrid vehicles continues to grow and new forecasts predict that they will account for an estimated 30% of all vehicle sales by 2025. However, the drivetrains traditionally utilized in EV and HV designs are powered by rare-earth materials, which are predicted to experience a shortage by 2030, hindering long-term growth potential.

Dr. Ayman El-Refaie, Werner Endowed Chair in Secure/Sustainable Energy and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Marquette University will serve as the lead on the three-year DOE Vehicle Technologies Office project that seeks to meet and even exceed the DOE targets around metrics such as max torque, power, speed current and bus voltage as demand for electric vehicles continues to grow, without the use of rare earths.

“We are very excited about teaming with Niron Magnetics on this project and see their Iron Nitride permanent magnets as a key enabling technology to achieve our project objectives,” said Dr. El-Refaie. “Beyond this project, Niron’s technology will help achieve higher performance in electrical machines over a broad range of applications. We are very much looking forward to working with their team.”

The proposed design incorporates high performance Iron Nitride (FeN) magnets that the team at Niron will be developing. Niron’s Clean Earth Magnet technology does not utilize any rare earth elements and offers several major advantages over traditional magnets, including higher magnetic field strength, enhanced temperature stability, and lower cost input materials and manufacturing. Niron’s magnets have a higher magnetic flux density than conventional Ferrite and NdFeB-based magnets, enabling size and weight reduction in motors without compromising power or torque, which will be critical to meet DOE targets around cost and efficiency.

“This collaboration, along with the other vehicle technology innovation projects funded by the DOE will help shape the future of the transportation sector and increase access to more sustainable options for consumers,” said Frank Johnson, Ph.D., CTO, Niron. “Professor El-Refaie and his team understand the potential our technology has to unlock new possibilities in power generation without the use of rare earths, ensuring that electrics motors of the future are not only more cost effective, but sustainable.”

The project is funded by the Vehicle Technologies Office of the Department of Energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are also partnering on the project. To learn more about the $139 million in federal funding from the DOE to advance innovative vehicle technologies, and the other related projects, please visit the Department of Energy’s website.

To learn more about Niron Magnetics and its Clean Earth Magnet™ technology, please visit

Read press release HERE.

About Niron Magnetics
Niron Magnetics is developing the world’s first advanced manufacturing process for the mass production of permanent magnets powered by its breakthrough material formulation. Niron’s proprietary Iron nitride magnets possess inherently higher magnetization and can be produced at a lower cost compared to today’s rare-earth magnets and will enable a revolution in the design of new electric motors and generators. For more information, please visit


Kalyn Schieffer

DOE Announces $139 Million in Funding for 55 Projects to Advance Innovative Vehicle Technologies

DETROIT, MI – Today, in his remarks at General Motors in Detroit, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced $139 million in federal funding for 55 projects across the country that will support new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies. Six of these innovative projects will be led by teams in Michigan.

“Technological innovation is key to revitalizing America’s manufacturing competitiveness, especially in the transportation sector,” said Secretary Brouillette. “I’m excited to announce that six of the 55 total projects will be led by teams here in Michigan, a state that has been the backbone of the American automobile industry for years. The Trump Administration is committed to investing in technologies that expand access to affordable mobility and provide consumers with a wide range of transportation options to meet their needs.”

Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), projects will conduct research in advanced batteries, electrification, and manufacturing in support of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge. Announced by Secretary Brouillette in January 2020, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge is a comprehensive strategy to create and sustain U.S. global leadership in energy storage technology, utilization, and exports.

Among the projects announced today, EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) are collaborating on two projects totaling $15 million aimed at lightweight and high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer composites for vehicle applications. First, a Ford-led team, in collaboration with DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other partners, will develop multi-functional composite structures with electronics integration for cross car beam applications. Second, a General Motors-led team is developing fiber-reinforced composites for high volume manufacturing of structural battery enclosures. Michigan State University’s Scale Up Research Facility is partnering with both teams. The facility was established with DOE funding under the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.

Selected projects under this funding opportunity will be managed by VTO. VTO research pathways focus on fuel diversification, vehicle efficiency, energy storage, lightweight materials, and new mobility technologies to improve the overall energy efficiency and affordability of the transportation system.

For example, the projects will:

  • Advance lithium-ion batteries using silicon-based anodes,
  • Reduce the need for critical minerals such as rare-earth materials in electric drive motors and platinum group metals in emission catalysts,
  • Accelerate the development of smart charging technologies to mitigate potential electric vehicle impacts on the grid and maintain low-cost charging for consumers,
  • Improve efficiency for light-duty gasoline engines, medium- and heavy- duty natural gas engines, and agricultural off-road vehicles,
  • Increase demonstrations and infrastructure for advanced technology vehicles, including those for gaseous fuels,
  • Develop lightweight and high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer composites for vehicle applications, and
  • Support mobility technologies such as connected and automated vehicles, as well as innovations in transit.  

Learn more about all of the projects selected today here. More information on EERE’s VTO office can be found on their webpage, and more information on the AMO office can be found on their webpage


Read DOE announcement HERE.

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