Why fabricating rare-earth free permanent magnets is crucial for smart, sustainable mobility

Jun 7, 2021 | Project news


The lack of sustainable access to several critical raw materials is one of the most serious challenges currently faced by the European Raw Materials sector. In this sector, permanent magnets represent one of the most vulnerable categories: these magnets are critical components in technologies that are crucial to Europe’s energy and transport sustainability, such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, aerospace, medical equipment, and a multitude of domestic appliances.

To produce permanent magnets, we currently utilise rare earth materials. Since the discovery of rare-earth-based permanent magnets, their performance has greatly improved, and we have experienced incredible growth in production. Rare earths, however, are not mined in Europe: today, the European Union is fully dependent on imports for rare earth materials.

We currently import 100% of the raw materials we need, and we are able to recycle less than 1% of it, due to the energy-intensive recycling process – which also has a huge environmental impact.  

All these factors combined make permanent magnets one of the most vulnerable categories in the European raw material sector.  

Finding a solution for Europe’s dependence on critical and scarce raw materials for permanent magnets

Considering the importance of permanent magnets in present and emerging technologies, PASSENGER will develop scaled alternatives based on resources widely available in Europe and innovative technologies.

The project aims to develop a sustainable substitution model in permanent magnets subdivided into 8 innovative pilot plant activities covering the complete value chain and including electromobility as a main key-driving sector. The choice of materials is based on existing research and technological development achieved by the partners in the frame of previous successful EU funded projects.

By 2025, PASSENGER will upscale the production of its novel magnets and fully integrate them into e-bike, e-scooter, and e-motorbike motors, while additionally implementing them into a multitude of appliances in e-cars, actuators, and pump systems for water supply.

By developing a competitive and sustainable alternative to rare-earth based permanent magnets, PASSENGER is paving the way for a European renaissance in the electromobility sector.

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