Cerium-Based Magnets

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Ames, Iowa
Project Term:
01/01/2012 - 05/31/2015

Technology Description:

Ames Laboratory is developing a new class of permanent magnets based on the more commonly available element cerium for use in both EVs and renewable power generators. Cerium is 4 times more abundant and significantly less expensive than the rare earth element neodymium, which is frequently used in today's most powerful magnets. Ames Laboratory will combine other metal elements with cerium to create a new magnet that can remain stable at the high temperatures typically found in electric motors. This new magnetic material will ultimately be demonstrated in a prototype electric motor, representing a cost-effective and efficient alternative to neodymium-based motors.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Ames Laboratory cerium-based magnets would be used to cost-effectively power an electric motor for use in wind generators and EVs.


The U.S. produces a small fraction globally of industrial rare earths. Developing alternatives to the use of rare earths has the potential to reduce our dependence on these materials and will have a positive impact on our national economic and energy security.


The transportation and electric power sectors account for nearly 75% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions each year. Better magnets would support the widespread use of EVs and wind power, significantly reducing these emissions.


The U.S. spends nearly $1 billion per day on imported petroleum. Improvements in magnet technology would enable a broader use of EVs, which would help insulate our economy from unexpected spikes in the price of oil.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ji-Cheng Zhao
Project Contact:
Dr. R. William McCallum
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


General Motors

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