Ames Lab Partnership: Meeting Motor Efficiency Standards with Enhanced Alnico Magnets

We’re excited to share that Arnold Magnetic Technologies is partnering with Ames Laboratory to improve the magnetic properties of Alnico for use in energy efficient traction-drive motors.

Ames Laboratory scientists recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Fund to test the ability of powder-processed alnico magnets to meet energy density and mechanical properties targets in advanced drive motors.

Ames Lab and its corporate partners will produce dozens of these enhanced Alnico magnets using their novel processing approach. Arnold Magnetic Technologies will be involved in the finishing stage of production, completing the machining and heat treating of the magnets. Arnold has manufactured Alnico magnets since 1938 at our Marengo, Illinois facility, and we’re enthused to see renewed interest in this high performance family of materials.

Alnico (an iron-based alloy containing aluminum-nickel-cobalt-copper-titanium) is a family of non-rare earth permanent magnet materials commonly used in magnetic holding devices, magnetic sensing systems, beam guidance (radar, MRI), inertial guidance systems, etc. Upon its discovery, Alnico became the first truly high performance motor magnet material. Other benefits are its high mechanical strength, temperature stability, and corrosion resistance.

Through a combination of powder processing and exacting thermal processing of Alnico, Ames Lab has demonstrated increased coercivity while maintaining residual magnetic flux density, resulting in increased maximum energy product. These performance improvements will help motor designers meet their own targets as well as those set by the DOE for 2022.

Although a demonstration motor is being prepared using the improved Alnico, additional material and process refinements are expected during the next two project years.

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