Working with Toyota Motor Corporation, our Professor Gino Hrkac and his team played a crucial role in developing new magnetic materials which require significantly lower levels of these rare earth metals. The team used advanced computer-simulation design to discover the most effective magnets with a lower critical mineral requirement. These were tested and implemented in Toyota’s hybrid vehicles.
Toyota have incorporated these new materials in around 6.5 million hybrid vehicles produced by Toyota since 2016, reducing the consumption of rare earth metals – and their associated environmental damage – by 450 tonnes.
The advanced materials have also contributed to remarkable efficiency gains for Toyota: they have successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions from Toyota’s hybrid vehicles by 11 million tonnes worldwide and led to significant cost savings of over US$108 million.
Akira Kato, Grand Master at Toyota’s Advanced Materials Engineering Division, said: “The University of Exeter played a crucial role to confirm and support the [research] principles for these new magnets, [bringing] outstanding academic performance to the collaboration.”