The Nissan Leaf, the company’s most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle, is about to get even more “green” for the 2013 model year. The EV is continually under scrutiny from the engineers at Nissan and for the coming year, a new process has been developed that allows for the use of a much smaller amount of dysprosium, a rare-earth metal that is notoriously difficult to extract from mines.
The process, named grain boundary diffusion, is much more effective than previous methods of applying dysprosium to the magnets in the Nissan Leafs electric motor. The main purpose of this metal coating is to help keep temperatures down in the extremely high revving motor and to prevent long term wear and tear of the magnets. The new process allows for a much smaller quantity of this metal to be used in order to achieve the same results. While this is great news for the EV from Nissan, it is also good news for other, internal combustion engine, vehicles that also use dysprosium and for the drivers who buy these vehicles. As the metal is quite costly, using less of it allows for a lower cost of production and in turn a better vehicle for a lower price.