Today, electric cars and wind turbines make use of neodymium magnets because of its greater magnetic flux density. Generally, neodymium is a widely used rare earth magnet. It is the largest element of new kind of high-strength magnets used to escalate the power as well as reduce weight and size of electric motors.
Electric motors become indispensible, especially in this generation of hybrid, electric cars, and need for hard disk drives miniaturization. In addition, wind turbine construction also depends on strong magnetic field to produce electricity.
Structure of neodymium
Chemical symbol of neodymium is Nd and has an atomic number 60. It means its nucleus has 60 protons. In pure state, this element is silvery grey in color and is the most re-active form of lanthanides. In presence of air, it quickly discolors and is found as an ore in minerals like bastnasite and monazite. Natural neodymium has 7 stable isotopes.
Discovery of neodymium
Swedish chemist Carl Mosander unearthed several rare earth elements but separated one oxide and named it didymium. This oxide was a mixture of 2 elements, which was detected by an Australian chemist Baron Welsbach. Baron separated neodymium from another lanthanide called praseodymium. In 1950’s, neodymium began to be produced commercially from monazite via an ion exchange process.
First commercial application of neodymium was in glass pigmentation. Neodymium oxide was used in the preparation of glass. The glass appeared lavender in daylight and pale blue in color under fluorescent light.
Super magnets – High in demand
The last decade, neodymium has experienced a dramatic increase in commercial demand. Neodymium is considered as a super strength magnet created from alloy of iron, neodymium, and boron. This alloy Nd2Fe14B was discovered in the year 1982. It was designed with an aim to respond against the high priced samarium-cobalt magnets (the first kind of commercial rare earth magnet).
Neodymium magnets are comprised of high magnetic strength in comparison to other kind of permanent magnets. These are widely used in plenty of modern technological appliance that needs permanent magnets. Due to their potent strength small and light magnets can be used.
Application of neodymium magnets and rare earth oxides
Uses of neodymium magnets can be seen in MRI machines, magnetic guitar pickups, cordless tools in motors, loudspeaker and headphones, power steering, wind turbine generators, and hybrid car batteries.
Production of rare earth oxides (REO) grew rapidly in the world mines, which directly relates to the increase in REO consumption. It has been used as catalyst for cracking of fluid and as catalytic converters in vehicles. In addition, it is applied in metallurgical and glass industries. Usage of neodymium oxide is 69% and Praseodymium oxide accounts for 23%.
Strength of neodymium
Nd2Fe14B is a very potent permanent magnet in the world.
- A thumbnail sized NdFeB magnet, when positioned on a refrigerator cannot be budged by hand.
- A miniature neodymium magnet makes your cell phones to vibrate, during an incoming call.
- High-end audio speakers and headphones use magnets to accurately reproduce sound.
- MRI is used to get an internal body view without radiation.
- Used in lasers to cut, weld, scribe, target, ranging, boring and even remove tattoos.