EIT RawMaterials is excited to announce a major milestone achieved by its partner initiative the PASSENGER project. Consortium partners of the project have successfully tested prototypes with rare earth-free permanent magnets. This represents a great advancement in the Green Transition through European alternatives.

Permanent magnets play a crucial role in achieving carbon neutrality and are essential for the production of many technologies such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, and everyday devices. Traditionally, their production relies heavily on rare earth elements, which are not only costly and difficult to recycle but can also have a high environmental impact. Moreover, Europe’s reliance on importing rare earths from third-party countries like China may hinder the development of its green energy sector and the broader European industries.

Achieving high-performance magnets with eco-friendly, European-made solutions

The prototypes—an e-scooter and a water pump motor—use magnets developed from improved strontium ferrite, a powder that can be produced from raw materials widely available in Europe. Impressively, the performance of the motor matches that of conventional motors based on rare earth magnets, delivering comparable torque, speed, and efficiency. This was made possible by focusing on the optimisation of the whole product to fully exploit the capabilities of these innovative magnets.

“At EIT RawMaterials, our mission has always been to champion circular economy, materials innovation, and responsible sourcing. These innovative rare earth-free magnets are particularly remarkable in that they not only use materials that are readily accessible and produced within Europe, reducing our dependence on third-party countries, but they also offer a superior recycling potential compared to traditional permanent magnets. This breakthrough is perfectly aligned with the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials Act, demonstrating Europe’s ability to cultivate self-sufficiency and a more sustainable future through innovation.”  Bernd Schaefer, CEO, Managing Director of EIT RawMaterials.

PASSENGER (Pilot Action for Securing a Sustainable European Next Generation of Efficient RE-free magnets) is a project funded by the European Union under grant agreement no. 101003914 that aims to end Europe’s dependence on imported rare earth elements for permanent magnets manufacturing. The successfully tested prototypes demonstrate that rare earth-free magnets can be used to create high-performance products, signaling a monumental development for end users and downstream industries across Europe.

Paving the way for Europe’s leadership in rare earth-free magnet production 

Over the next four years, the PASSENGER project will work to make Europe a leader in the production of rare earth-free permanent magnets. The next steps include minimising the environmental impact of production processes, developing new and improved rare earth-free magnetic materials, primarily based on manganese, and testing and validating these magnets in an array of applications. With these efforts, PASSENGER is poised to strengthen Europe’s commitment to a sustainable and self-sufficient industrial future.

More information on the PASSENGER project can be found here: https://passenger-project.eu/ .