To avoid reliance on dysprosium, Toshiba aims to commercialize its samarium-cobalt (SmCo) magnets and hopes that within a year's time, samarium, a rare-earth metal in ample supply in the U.S. and Australia, will replace the dysprosium found in the electric motors that motivate plug-in cars.
Toshiba's development of samarium-cobalt magnets is ongoing, but several recent breakthroughs point towards this technology emerging soon. Samarium-cobalt magnets have long been thought to offer inadequate performance for electric motor duties. However, by reducing the cobalt content by 15 percent and replacing it with iron, Toshiba discovered a way to improve the samarium-cobalt's magnetic force by ten percent. Let's hope that Toshiba's engineers work this one out because relying on China for rare-earth metals can put automakers in a position that we believe they'd rather not be in.
[Source: Nikkei – sub. req. via Green Car Congress]