Rare earths have played an important role in helping reduce energy consumption in many of today's high-tech electronic, audio-visual, photographic, and music devices including mobile phones, IPODs, LCD televisions, camera lenses, PCs, and CD/DVD players.
They are also the driving force behind the miniaturisation of these everyday consumer products. Take for example a SMART mobile phone where rare earths are used to polish the glass surface of the phone. Rare earths are also found in the magnets, which enable the phone speakers to provide high-quality sound. Each mobile phone only contains a few grams of rare earths. This may not sound a lot but when you calculate there are as many as six billion or more active mobile phone accounts across the globe, you can see why rare earths are in such strong demand.
Modern cars include a growing number of electrical motors, including for seat adjustment, wipers, side mirrors, roof movements, ABS brake pumps, EPS (Electronic Power Steering) replacing traditional hydraulic systems, air conditioning compressors, cooling water pumps, and oil pumps – a total that varies between 20 and 50 small electrical motors.
NdFeB permanent DC motors allow substantial weight reductions, thus supporting better energy efficiency for the car.
As an example, (photo below), a ferrite based ABS pump weighs twice as much and is twice as large as an NdFeB equivalent (0.7kg versus 1.4kg).
Overall, the extensive use of NdFeB DC motors allows several kg of weight reduction per car.
In addition, the better efficiency of NdFeB motors helps improve the range of electrical and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
These advantages are even more important when it comes to electrical, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars, since they also include a drive-train electrical motor (and an electrical generator for hybrids and plug-in hybrids).