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Lewis Awarded $200K NSF Grant

ChE & MIE Professor Laura Lewis was awarded a $200K NSF grant for “Sustainable Permanent Magnets For Advanced Applications“.


Abstract Source: NSF

This PFI: AIR Technology Translation project focuses on directed development of the crystal structure, microstructure and magnetic structure of equiatomic FeNi (Iron-Nickel) to create an advanced permanent magnet entirely comprised of easily accessible, earth-abundant elements. Advanced permanent magnets underlie operation of myriad devices and machines, including hybrid/electric vehicles, direct-drive wind turbines, motors and generators and thus are technologically and industrially important. At present, advanced permanent magnets require rare-earth metals that are in limited supply in the current situation of the global supply chain. Equiatomic FeNi with the chemically ordered tetragonal structure, known as tetrataenite, is found naturally only in selected meteorites subjected to extraordinarily long cooling periods and has been confirmed to exhibit excellent permanent magnetic properties. This PFI: AIR Technology Translation project will deliver enabling proof-of-concept synthesis and processing protocols, based on existing industrial metallurgical techniques, to greatly accelerate the formation of tetrataenite to industrially-relevant timescales. The end-stage magnets made from the synthesized tetratenite will not only feature maximum theoretical energy products that approach 66% of those characterizing the best rare-earth-based magnets, but are also anticipated to exhibit high-temperature performance exceeding that of the best neodymium (Nd) based magnets. In addition, complementing clear advantages in cost and supply chain availability, such magnets would exhibit superior corrosion resistance and associated extended technological lifetimes.

This project will provide enabling insight into the conditions and processes necessary to favor the formation of tetrataenite, as well as inform microstructural aspects of this material as it transitions from the research lab to commercial production and application. In particular, techniques to simultaneously apply controlled processing parameters, such as temperature, strain and magnetic field, will be designed and implemented. Parallel development of transport measurement protocols to identify the earliest stages of desired phase formation from the parent alloy will be conducted. In addition, personnel involved in this project (one post-doctoral associate, one graduate student and undergraduate cooperative education internship students) will receive experiences in the science, engineering and technology of permanent magnetic materials, including industrial and global supply chain perspectives.

This project engages Rogers Corporation at the Rogers Innovation Center in Burlington, Mass. and at Rogers Headquarters in Rogers, Conn., to build closer linkages between academic research at Northeastern University, industry know-how, and commercialization of research. In this manner materials solutions to address global challenges for clean energy and safety and security will be pursued, facilitating and accelerating translation from research discovery toward commercial reality.

Related Faculty: Laura H. Lewis

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering