The 2022 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize) has been awarded to Japan’s Dr. Masato Sagawa for his work on the sintered permanent magnet Neodymium Iron Boron.
The Nd-Fe-B magnet is the world’s most powerful permanent magnet, described by the QEPrize Foundation as “transformative” in its contribution to enabling cleaner, energy-saving technologies.
dr. Sagawa led the development and commercialization of the rare earth sintered permanent magnet for which he received the priceawarded annually to celebrate the critical role of engineering in global society.
He created a new compound formed by replacing the scarce and expensive cobalt and samarium with more abundant and cheaper iron and neodymium, while introducing boron to improve its magnetic properties – the first step in bringing high performance to a mass market. .
Sagawa then led research and development in the 1980s and early 1990s to successfully overcome the problems of sudden reduction in high temperature magnetic coercivity, especially by adding dysprosium (Dy) to improve heat resistance. This led to the development of large-scale production techniques, bringing the innovation to the market.
For even broader applications, he continued to develop new techniques to reduce the amount of dysprosium or even eliminate its use to help conserve natural resources. The result was a new mass-market magnet that nearly doubled the performance of the previous best and successfully turned Nd-Fe-B magnets into a viable industrial material.
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The new magnet has a significant advantage in high-efficiency, high-torque density applications, such as motors and generators for electric vehicles and wind power generation, as well as in general applications where small powerful magnets are required, including robots, automatic systems and household appliances.
Nd-Fe-B, a market expected to be worth more than $19.3 billion by 2026, is recognized as the key to the value chain of 8.5 million electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles in use worldwide.
dr. Sagawa said he was honored to receive the prestigious award, saying: “The purpose of engineering is to benefit humanity, and this award inspires engineers to keep working towards their goals. Engineering is essential to solving today’s most pressing issues, and this includes tackling climate change.
“While neodymium magnets have a wide variety of applications, one of the most important is their use for climate-saving products such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.”
Lord Browne of Madingley, president of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, awarded the prize to Dr Sagawa, describing Sagawa’s innovation as the ’embodiment’ of the ‘essence of engineering’.
dr. Sagawa will be formally honored at the QEPrize presentation ceremony later this year and will receive £500,000 and a trophy designed by 2022 Create the Trophy winner Anshika Agarwal, 17 years old from India.
He becomes the first laureate since it was announced that the prize will be awarded annually rather than biennially, reflecting the increasing pace of technical innovation.