INFINIUM announced today that it is moving into commercial production of rare earth metals, an enabling component of high strength permanent magnets that are used in trillions of dollars of finished products worldwide. The company has demonstrated electrolytic reduction of rare earth metals from oxides using full-scale cell subsystems, implementing advanced process controls that will dramatically reduce energy consumption, emissions, and labor content. INFINIUM is now expanding production at its Natick, Massachusetts facility and taking dysprosium orders for fulfillment to customers later this year. With this production, INFINIUM becomes the only commercial producer of rare earth metals in North America.
Traditional oxide-to-metal methods are often batch process, with poor yield, high labor content, and increase workers exposure to hazardous chemicals and a dangerous work environment. Due to the conversion costs and environmental factors, up to 80% of today’s total rare earth production is done in China, with substantially all dysprosium produced in China or under Chinese control. Prices surged as much as 1000% in 2011 as a result of export quotas on rare earth oxides and metals imposed by Chinese authorities. Trillions of dollars in the defense and commercial industries are dependent on rare earth metals, including guidance control systems, wind turbines, hybrid vehicles, disk drives, and more.
“With our initial capacity, we not only meet the demands of our immediate customers, but are able to demonstrate how this dramatically different process can deliver attractive economics even when located in North America,” comments Steve Derezinski, CEO of INFINIUM. “Once we move into full scale, we fully expect a production cost structure that is competitive with the lowest cost plants in China. This provides a very compelling alternative to our customers who are very concerned about securing a stable supply of metal for their magnets. ”
INFINIUM has revolutionized the process of rare earth oxide-to metal production by the introduction of proprietary materials and electrolytic process technology, resulting in reduced energy consumption, very low labor, low to zero emissions, and dramatically higher conversion yield. INFINIUM has developed an advanced process control technology that optimizes electrolysis and raw material feed on the basis of real time bath chemistry and production gas measurement. The system is closed, dramatically reducing heat loss and emissions, and the loss of expensive bath and raw materials. The process is highly flexible, and will enable INFINIUM to shift production from one metal to another in a matter of weeks, maximizing capital equipment assets, and allowing for responsiveness to market demand.
Dysprosium-Iron (DyFe) is the first of several metals that will position INFINIUM to fulfill a crucial role in the global supply chain for permanent magnets. INFINIUM has successfully produced both Neodymium metal (Nd) and DyFe, and will launch its sales with DyFe. Customers may obtain product specifications and ordering information from the company’s website (InfiniumMetals.com/products). INFINIUM will expand its offering in 2015 to include Nd metal, and production of didymium later in 2015. INFINIUM’s processes and methods are covered by 17 patents and numerous trade secrets.
INFINIUM is a revolutionary metals production technology company, founded in 2008 and headquartered in the Boston area, commercializing technology developed over a decade at MIT and Boston University. INFINIUM has demonstrated its process across a broad range of metals, including magnesium, titanium, tantalum, dysprosium, neodymium, solar-grade silicon and aluminum, enabling trillions of dollars of finished goods. Its mission is to lead the challenge of deploying the next generation of clean, low cost metals to address materials needs of the next 100 years. INFINIUM is privately held, and supported by investors with strong global business and technology experience, and by US Government grants and contracts.
Dr. Aaron A. Bent