Innovative open-source simulation software platform to accelerate design of ‘greener’ magnets

2024-03-05

Scientists from Austria, France, Germany and Sweden are joining forces with two major technology companies in a bid to develop more environmentally friendly magnets using sustainable materials.

Magnets are crucial for many of today’s technologies, from the generators in wind turbines and the motors that power electric vehicles, which help to reduce global heating, to computers, sensors and smartphones. Despite the huge importance of magnets, the rare earths they contain are scarce and difficult to mine and separate, so their production can cause serious environmental problems. In addition, 98 percent of these raw materials required in the EU need to be imported – an aspect which causes significant economic dependencies.

The scientists are setting up an open-source software platform, an enormously powerful tool kit of advanced modelling programs, to simulate the behaviour of magnetic materials and tailor them to specific applications. The pioneering Magnetic Multiscale Modelling Suite (Project – ID: 101135546 – MaMMoS), will combine experiments, simulation, and artificial intelligence. AI, to identify and design innovative magnetic materials and optimise them for cutting-edge devices and sensors. The four-year project was launched in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, in January and is supported by € 6 million in funding from the European Union.

Computation of magnetic domains in permanent magnets. Image: Alexander Kovacs, Universität für Weiterbildung Krems.

The MaMMoS project could significantly reduce the development time for novel permanent magnetic materials, ranging from those utilized in large-scale applications like industrial automation and renewable energy sources to others destined for smartphones and sensors. In order to boost the accuracy of ongoing simulations, the suite will deploy AI methods in the modelling processes.

The project team will create standards to link up existing and future simulation software at all development stages in collaboration with the EU magnet, automation, and sensor industry – from first principles models and micromagnetics right through to simulators at device level. MaMMoS will prioritise data sharing and reuse amongst researchers and industries, making it a highly accessible and socially valuable software suite.  

“Greener permanent magnets are of the utmost importance in the race to meet the current climate challenges”, says project coordinator Thomas Schrefl, head of the Centre for Simulation and Modelling at the University for Continuing Education in Krems, Austria: “The MaMMoS project contributes to the EU Green New Deal by developing methods to minimize the use of critical raw materials in high-performance magnets, which are integral components of electric motors and generators.”

The other scientific project partners include the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg, the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden (both located in Germany), Uppsala University in Sweden and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Grenoble, France. Two of Germany’s best-known global technology companies, Siemens AG and Robert Bosch GmbH, will contribute wide-ranging industrial expertise and R&D capabilities to the modelling suite.

Participating institutions specialize in the modelling, characterisation, or production of magnetic materials on different length scales. This wealth of simulation tools, characterisation methods and technical know-how will be pooled in MaMMoS, so that the software platform can support the modelling of a vast spectrum of promising materials. 

“This project is not only fascinating and challenging but will also revolutionise the search for new environmentally friendly alternatives for today’s functional magnetic materials due to its open-source nature and the aim to define uniform standards for this type of materials design,” notes Heike Herper from Uppsala University.

Ultimately, MaMMoS promises to make a major contribution to the development of novel magnetic materials and help to replace many rare earth-containing magnets. The data gathered through the various simulation and characterisation tools will underpin experiments and the project as a whole presents a significant step forward in magnetic research. Once fully established, MaMMoS will serve as a ground-breaking collaborative platform offering important technological solutions to build a more sustainable future where technology and environmental responsibility go hand in hand.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Contact Uppsala University

Heike Herper, researcher, division of Materials Theory, Department og Physics and Astronomy, heike.herper@physics.uu.se, +46 (0)70-0389 067.




Last modified: 2022-07-18