New Trends of Rare Earth Permanent Magnet Industry in China

Rare Earth Permanent Magnet Industry – Rare earth permanent magnet materials represented by samarium cobalt (Sm-Co) and neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) are the most permanent magnet magnetic materials in the world, and are widely used in many national economies such as information and communication, electronic products and medical equipment. The field is also an indispensable basic functional material in the fields of energy environment, air and sea, traditional and non-traditional security.

In China, the rare earth permanent magnet material industry has developed into a very large strategic emerging industry. For more than 20 years, under the joint efforts of relevant state authorities, local governments, and the efforts of all permanent magnet industry workers, China’s rare earths The permanent magnet industry has made great achievements. Since 2000, China has become the world’s largest producer, exporter and consumer of rare earth permanent magnet materials.

Among them, samarium-cobalt (Sm-Co) rare earth permanent magnet materials are available in 1:5 type and 2:17 type, which are rare earth metal lanthanum (Sm, 34% and 20%, respectively) and scarce. Alloys made of elements such as strategic metal cobalt (Co, 66% and 80%, respectively) are expensive, and as such, the development of samarium-cobalt magnets is greatly limited. NdFeB rare earth permanent magnet material is composed of iron (Fe, 64%), boron (B, 1%) and rare earth strontium (Nd, 32%), strontium (Pr), strontium (Dy, > 2%) and other elements The alloy has high magnetic energy product, high coercivity, light weight and low cost. It is known as the “Magnetic King” and is the most cost-effective magnet material to date, which is beneficial to lighter, thinner and smaller magnetic components. With high efficiency development, the output value accounts for about 90% of the world’s rare earth permanent magnet material output value, and is the leader in the permanent magnet material market.

China Rare Earth Permanent Magnet Industry

China Rare Earth Permanent Magnet Industry

In the past 10 years, the overall application demand for rare earth permanent magnet materials has been strong, and it has developed rapidly with an annual growth rate of more than 20%. In 2010, the global production of sintered and bonded NdFeB was 98,200 tons and 0.6 million tons respectively. China’s NdFeB sintered blanks and bonded yields were 78,000 tons and 0.44 million tons, respectively, accounting for the world’s total output of sintered and bonded NdFeB. 79% and 73%; the output of global sintered Sm-Co magnets is about 0.1 million tons, of which China’s output accounts for about 60%. In the same year, China’s rare earth consumption was 87,000 tons, including 53800 tons in new materials and 34,100 tons of rare earth permanent magnets, accounting for 67% of China’s total consumption of rare earth new materials, accounting for 39% of China’s total rare earth consumption.

In 2011, the world’s rare earth prices fluctuated greatly and the increase was too high. Although the raw material cost had a certain impact on rare earth permanent magnets and their downstream applications, the strong market demand made China’s rare earth permanent magnet production still maintain a small increase (compared with 2010). The annual growth rate is 6.4%), a record high. The output of sintered NdFeB magnets reached 83,000 tons. At the same time, in terms of product quality, with the strong cooperation of rare earth raw material enterprises and sintered NdFeB equipment enterprises, the performance of China’s sintered NdFeB products has been increasing year by year, and the performance of high-end products of domestic superior enterprises has been with Hitachi Metals Co., Ltd. The quality of the products of major manufacturers such as Sumitomo Carbon Mining Co., Ltd., Aichi Steel Co., Ltd. and VAC Corporation of Germany is almost the same.

The rare earth permanent magnet industry chain is mainly composed of rare earth raw materials and production equipment suppliers, rare earth permanent magnet material manufacturers and the middle and lower reaches of the consumer market. In recent years, due to the ever-changing international environmental and domestic policy orientations related to the rare earth permanent magnet materials industry, relevant scientific research and preparation technologies have continued to advance, and China’s rare earth permanent magnet materials industry has presented a previously unprecedented development situation, as shown below. several aspects.

1. The fluctuation of upstream rare earth prices affects the entire industrial chain, stimulating enterprises to adjust product structure

In rare earth permanent magnet products, the cost of raw materials is relatively high, accounting for a considerable proportion (as in 2010, accounting for about 70%). The supply price of upstream raw materials directly affects the price of low-end rare earth permanent magnet materials. China’s rare earth resources are abundant, which provides the necessary material conditions for the full development of the NdFeB industry. The biggest advantage of China’s rare earth permanent magnet industry lies in its main raw materials, which account for 60% to 80% of the production cost in the upstream industry – rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, lanthanum and cerium can be purchased from domestic manufacturers. The arrival time is short and timely. Completing the order task also reduces the cost of shipping costs. Therefore, the cost of China’s NdFeB magnets is about 40% lower than that of foreign countries.

In recent years, in order to restrict disorderly competition and strengthen resource protection, China has successively introduced some policies and regulations to protect rare earth resources and promote the healthy and orderly development of the industry, including limiting the exploitation of rare minerals, and ordering rare earth production and canceling the export tax rebate for rare earth products. Policies, tariffs on certain rare earth export products, integration of mineral resources development, etc., see Table 1. The purpose of the state to increase the integration of rare earth resources is to strengthen the state’s control over rare earth resources and to grasp the pricing power of the international market.

rom the perspective of foreign rare earth resources supply, although many rare earth deposits have been prepared for resumption, development and expansion to ensure the balance of supply and demand of rare earth raw materials, the release of rare earth resources in the United States, Australia, Canada and other countries shows signs of acceleration, foreign rare earth production capacity. Continued improvement, however, foreign rare earth ore is mainly composed of light rare earths, and Dy and other medium-heavy rare earths with large demand are still supplied domestically. In view of the high environmental cost and labor cost of foreign rare earth manufacturers, the price of rare earth raw materials is still higher than domestic, and domestic rare earth permanent magnet manufacturers need to pay higher costs to purchase foreign rare earth raw materials. According to data released by the US Geological Survey (USGS), China’s rare earth production increased from 16,000 tons in 1990 to 130,000 tons in 2011, and the growth rate rose from 27% to 97%. However, since the second half of 2011, due to the vicious speculation of speculative capital in the market, and the existence of illegal production and smuggling of rare earths, the price of rare earth raw materials in China has experienced an unprecedented surge, resulting in the short-term price of rare earth permanent magnet materials. Drastic changes, the low-end and downstream applications are deeply affected.

Because the low-end application market has high price sensitivity to NdFeB permanent magnet materials, after the raw material rise and fall process, low-end sintered NdFeB in the fields of luggage magnets, low magnetic therapy products, medium and low magnetic field magnetic separators, etc. No longer has a price advantage, it has completely withdrawn from the market; in the mid-end market, such as electronic products, manufacturers in order to save costs, began to reuse ferrite instead of NdFeB, some small and medium-sized manufacturers were forced to stop production. The demand for medium and low-end NdFeB permanent magnet materials has shrunk, which has slowed the growth of the overall supply of sintered NdFeB, which has seriously affected the healthy development of the entire rare earth permanent magnet material industry in China. The high-performance sintered NdFeB material with the sum of the intrinsic coercive force Hcj(kOe) and the maximum magnetic energy product (BH)max (MGOe) of more than 60 and the best performance is mainly used for manufacturing hundreds of them because of its irreplaceability. Important applications such as kilowatt hybrid (HEV) and electric vehicle (EV) generators, 103kW permanent magnet motors, small and medium-sized special-purpose permanent magnet motors, sensors, magnetic resonance instruments and advanced audio and video equipment are not Bringing obvious performance downside risks to high-end products-based enterprises will increase corporate profits, which will inevitably increase the development of high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet products by Chinese rare earth permanent magnet materials manufacturers. The boron permanent magnet industry brings new opportunities for industrial restructuring.

On the one hand, the situation that the high-performance sintered NdFeB is in short supply is difficult to change in the short term, and the future growth space is broad, and it will gradually become the mainstream product of NdFeB. The price of magnets will continue to rise, the impact of rare earth prices on the entire NdFeB industry will gradually decline, the industry will be highly concentrated, the market share will gradually increase, and the market share of high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet products occupied by Japan will be continuously divided. Japan’s high-end rare earth permanent magnet enterprise – Hitachi Metals (Neomax) “out of the box” situation will be broken.

On the other hand, from the layout of rare earth permanent magnet industry, as China is an important global distribution of rare earth raw materials and producers of products, some foreign NdFeB magnetic material manufacturers have closed their factories and transferred production capacity to China. At present, the United States has no high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet material production base, while Europe only has a capacity of less than 2000t/a in Germany and Finland. With the continued development of the western China and the advantages of raw materials, China Sintering The manufacturing center of iron and boron is shifting to the central and western regions, especially Inner Mongolia and Jiangxi.

The manufacturers are expanding to the field of rare earth motors. The main manufacturers of sintered NdFeB are obtaining stable supply of raw materials through shareholding and long-term cooperation agreements, and further integration and control of the rare earth industry by the state, further strengthening the rare earth smuggling activities. Severely attacked, China will further penetrate the upper, middle and lower reaches of rare earth permanent magnet materials, and the cost structure of enterprises will be further optimized, which will help to fundamentally improve the status of rare earth permanent magnet industry.

Second, the downstream low-end market competition is intensifying, and the high-end market is affected by fluctuations in raw material prices.

In recent years, the state has promulgated a variety of policies to support the downstream application market of rare earth permanent magnets to guide industrial development.

The author predicts that the entire rare earth permanent magnet industry will be a relatively prosperous period in the next 10 years. The reasons are as follows: First, under the general trend of energy conservation and environmental protection, high-efficiency rare earth permanent magnet motors will replace large numbers of traditional motors, direct-drive permanent magnet wind power generation, energy-saving appliances, energy-saving elevators, inverter air conditioners, new energy vehicles, etc. The demand for high-performance NdFeB in low-carbon related emerging energy-saving fields will be released in the next five years. Hybrid vehicles, new energy vehicles, rail transit, rare earth permanent magnet high-efficiency motors for small and lightweight vehicles, and multi-stage magnetization The explosive growth of rare earth permanent magnet fuel savers will drive the long-term demand for NdFeB permanent magnet materials, providing a basis for future stable demand growth. It is expected that during the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” period, the demand for rare earth permanent magnet materials related to low carbon economy will reach more than 50,000 tons.

Secondly, the explosive demand for high-performance sintered NdFeB in the traditional automobile industry, electronics industry, nuclear magnetic resonance, magnetic levitation train and oil-saving pumping unit is coming soon, and in terms of device miniaturization requirements, such as hard disk voice coil motor (VCM) The rigid demand for high-performance NdFeB is not a substitute for DVD drives/players, cell phone vibration motors and miniature electro-acoustic devices.

Finally, by 2014, the basic patents for the last two NdFeB formulations in foreign countries will expire, and the demand for high-performance sintered NdFeB in China in the Americas and Japan will be concentrated.

Third, the midstream will vigorously develop high-end rare earth permanent magnets, and the scale and delivery speed of new capacity will exceed expectations.

While protecting domestic rare earth resources, the state has increased its support for domestic rare earth permanent magnet production and manufacturing enterprises, especially for high-performance NdFeB high-tech products.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology clearly stated in the “12th Five-Year Development Plan for New Materials Industry” issued on February 22, 2012: Organizing the development of high magnetic energy product new rare earth permanent magnet materials and other products to promote high coercivity and high temperature resistance. Iron-boron magnets and samarium-cobalt magnets, isotropic ferrous-iron-nitrogen bonded magnetic powder and magnet industrialization”; and in the simultaneous publication of the “New Materials Industry” 12th Five-Year Key Product Catalogue, the rare earth magnetic materials are placed in the catalogue First place, and clearly pointed out that during the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” period, the development of magnetic energy and coercive force greater than 65 permanent magnet materials, the new permanent magnet material capacity of 20,000 t / a; also proposed “in the ‘twelve five’ period, China’s wind power The newly installed capacity is more than 60 million kW, the scale of the solar power plant is more than 10 million kW, and the installed capacity of nuclear power is 40 million kW. It is estimated that 40,000 tons of rare earth permanent magnet materials are needed.

On the other hand, in the NdFeB industry, McGonagall and Neomax have long monopolized the sales rights of sintered and bonded NdFeB magnets in the US, Japan and Europe with the patent of NdFeB. In 2003, the basic formula of NdFeB permanent magnet composition was invalid.

With the expiration of the patents for sintering NdFeB in 2014, the intellectual property restrictions restricting the development of NdFeB industry will be lifted, and the barriers to entry in high-end markets such as Europe, America and Japan will be greatly reduced. More than 100 in China NdFeB magnet material manufacturers (including 5 companies already licensed) will be able to send their products to Japan, Europe and the United States where patents are covered, and the market has generated considerable new demand.

As the price of rare earth continues to fall, the demand for downstream rare earth materials continues to expand in the context of energy saving and emission reduction. With the expansion of demand for sintered NdFeB, existing manufacturers continue to expand production capacity, and the overall capacity increase rate is greater than the demand increase rate. The rare earth new materials projects in various regions have been continuously launched. Under the support of the “12th Five-Year Development Plan for New Materials Industry”, the production of rare earth permanent magnets will continue to grow in the future.

Four. New trends in the development of rare earth permanent magnet technology

At present, the rare earth permanent magnet material industry has become the fastest growing and largest industry in China’s rare earth application field. Among them, the sintered NdFeB market is relatively transparent, with high requirements on technology and quality. The exploration and development of high-performance rare earth permanent magnet materials has always been a research hotspot of magnetic material research workers in various countries. In recent years, the research trends in the following aspects are obvious:

1 Development of low cost magnets

In recent years, with the support of the national “863” project, the China Iron and Steel Research Institute and other units have taken the lead in proposing the “speed-fastening ribbon + HD + double alloy” technical route based on the traditional quick-setting strip technology. It solves the common problems of crystallization control, alloy particle size and texture control, and effective utilization of ultrafine powder in the production of thousands of tons of high-performance NdFeB, which improves the yield of the magnet and effectively reduces the production cost. It has effectively promoted the overall level of China’s rare earth permanent magnet industry.

Magnetic properties of different Dy content NdFeB magnets and their application fields

Magnetic properties of different Dy content NdFeB magnets and their application fields

Low Dy content and high coercivity NdFeB magnets are currently the hottest research topics in the world, especially in Japan. At present, the world mainly focuses on how to effectively reduce the content of heavy rare earth lanthanum and cerium in high performance NdFeB magnets without increasing the magnetic properties of the magnets, and improve the coercivity and temperature stability to cope with the current mixing. Low-cost demand for high-end magnets in power vehicles and pure electric vehicles. The current research solutions include: grain boundary diffusion method to add heavy rare earth element or compound micron, nano powder, refinement grain method, two-liquid phase alloying method and doping rare earth hydride to achieve heavy rare earth elements Instead of entering the main phase, it enters the boundary layer between the main phase and the grain boundary phase to replace the position of the yttrium element, and does not lower the magnetization while enhancing the coercive force of the magnet; on the other hand, through effective control of the microstructure Improve the heat resistance of the magnet. Figure 4 shows the magnetic properties of NdFeB magnets with different Dy contents and their application fields.

2 Development of high temperature magnets

In recent years, the research and application of samarium-cobalt magnets have regained people’s attention, especially the high quality and stability requirements of electronic products such as mobile phones and other high-end communication equipment and automatic instrumentation. The demand for samarium-cobalt magnets will be high. There has been a big increase. This is because although NdFeB rare earth permanent magnets are the absolute dominant players in the permanent magnet market, the lower heat resistance and poor chemical stability of NdFeB severely limit their application in these fields. Although the samarium-cobalt (Sm-Co) rare earth permanent magnet material is relatively expensive, it is very suitable for its magnetic properties, stable temperature, high temperature stability, high temperature stability, good heat resistance, oxidation resistance and corrosion resistance. The fields of high temperature, poor working conditions, and high temperature stability requirements (such as automotive sensors) have an irreplaceable role in special fields such as aerospace, aerospace, marine, military and defense. For example, the samarium-cobalt permanent magnet ring can automatically control the speed of the motor on the gyro of the rocket control platform, adjust the direction of the rocket, and accurately enter the intended target. In China, the samarium-cobalt rare earth permanent magnet radiation ring, multi-stage ring and its permanent magnet device produced by Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute are widely used in aerospace, aviation, navigation, military and other fields. It is the Long March series carrier rocket and “Shenzhou” series. The successful launch of spacecraft such as “Chang’e-1”, “Chang’e II” and “Tiangong No.1” provides high-quality permanent magnet materials and devices.

3 Development of high performance magnets

Since the early 1990s, the exploration of new rare earth compounds has been very active, but so far no compounds have been found that exceed the magnetic properties of NdFeB. At present, research is still focused on continuing to improve the magnetic energy product of NdFeB magnets. On the one hand, it increases the saturation magnetization, volume percentage and orientation of the main phase, and increases the density of the sintered body. On the other hand, it increases the grain magnetic orientation of the main phase. Heterogeneity and control of the fine structure of the sintered body to enhance the coercive force of the magnet. Recent major research trends include: precise design and strict control of chemical composition, use of the inverted pulse magnetic field to enhance the magnetic field orientation during molding, reduce the oxygen content of the magnet, and reduce coexistence. The boron-rich phase, and minimize the enthalpy phase required to maintain coercivity, to effectively increase the volume ratio of the main phase of the magnet.

The latest developments in the development of new high-performance permanent magnet materials include: Sm Fe-Ni magnets improve the surface treatment process of magnetic powder and improve the curing technology, which is expected to reach a coercive force of 20,000 Oe for use in motors such as hybrid vehicles; Fe- N-type alloys have caused continuous research by many scholars because they have far higher theoretical values ​​of magnetic energy products than samarium-cobalt magnets (30-40 MGOe) and neodymium-iron-boron magnets (63MGOe) (up to 100 MGOe); Chinese scholars in 2012 8 In the month, a ferromagnetic film with ultra-high vertical coercivity, super perpendicular perpendicular magnetic anisotropy and large magnetic energy Mn-Ga single crystal was developed in the room temperature environment; Chinese scholars used steady-state strong magnetic field to weak ferromagnetic material ferrite. LuFeO3 was tested and found to have strong structural anisotropy, exhibiting an ultra-high coercivity much greater than 4 T at room temperature and a saturation magnetic field much larger than 14 T at room temperature, proving that LuFeO3 is a Super hard magnetic material.

The relatively accepted view in the field of scientific research is that if you want to surpass the highest magnetic energy product of the current NdFeB magnets, the only way is to make nanocomposite magnets. The nano-biphase composite permanent magnet comprises a soft magnetic phase and a hard magnetic phase, and has a high magnetic anisotropy of the hard magnetic phase and a high saturation magnetization of the soft magnetic phase through the mutual coupling between the two phases, the theory It is expected that the magnetic energy product is more than twice that of the third generation NdFeB permanent magnet material, and has the advantages of low rare earth content, low cost, high temperature stability, high heat resistance and oxidation resistance, etc. Practicality is expected to be the representative of the next generation of permanent magnet materials.

At the end of 2006, a method using surfactant-assisted high-energy ball milling was considered to be an effective way to prepare permanent magnet nanoparticles. By using this technique, by adding n-heptane as a ball milling solvent to a ball mill tank, and adding an appropriate amount of oleic acid and oleylamine as a surfactant, and then subjecting the ball mill to particle classification, it is extremely convenient to obtain various types of narrow particle size distribution. Soft and hard magnetic nanoparticles are then composited and sintered by other effective methods that have been studied to obtain nano-biphase composite permanent magnets. More importantly, anisotropic samarium cobalt and neodymium iron boron nanoflakes with narrow particle size distribution and high coercivity can be prepared by this technique. Not only that, but scholars also theoretically and experimentally demonstrate the formation process of nanosheets with excellent performance. The results of these work are all the preparation of nanocomposite permanent magnets with high magnetic properties and practical application, which lays an extremely important research foundation.

Although this technology still has technical difficulties such as low production of permanent magnet nanoparticles, it was immediately invented by the relevant researchers at the University of Texas, and immediately led to the University of Delaware, General Motors, and Dellington, Germany. The University, the Indian Institute of Advanced Defense Technology and the domestic Beijing University of Technology, Jilin University and the Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, such as the permanent magnet researchers, highly recognized, the column editor of Nature magazine believes that this technology has a variety of preparations The heterogeneous two-phase composite permanent magnet sintered bulk magnet explores a more feasible road.

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