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NETL Pittsburgh Campus
Success Story: NETL Helps Move Advanced Magnetic Technologies Towards Commercialization

Advanced magnetics technologies with potential application in energy and electric vehicle manufacturing developed at NETL and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) were recently licensed to Pittsburgh-based startup CorePower Magnetics Inc. to bring them to the private sector.

The technology license covers a broad portfolio of soft magnetics technologies developed by teams led by CMU’s Michael McHenry Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientist of CorePower Magnetics, and University of Pittsburgh’s Paul Ohodnicki Ph.D., co-founder and chief technology officer of CorePower Magnetics and former NETL researcher. This combination of novel magnetic materials and advanced manufacturing techniques enable a level of control in magnetics engineering not currently available. 

Soft magnetic materials are magnetic materials with low coercivity and high permeability, making them easy to magnetize and demagnetize. They are widely used in various electric energy conversion equipment. Soft magnetic materials mainly include metal soft magnetic materials, ferrite soft magnetic materials and other soft magnetic materials. The most widely used soft magnetic materials are iron-silicon alloys and various soft ferrites.

The NETL Tech Transfer Agreements team worked with CorePower to license NETL’s rights in the inventions to CorePower to make, use, or sell in the area of production and processing of magnetic alloys for use in power electronic devices, sensors, and electric motors.  This will allow CorePower to move these inventions towards commercialization and entry into the market. 

Researchers from NETL’s Research & Innovation Center Functional Materials Team co-invented these inventions with collaborators from Carnegie Mellon University.

With the underlying CMU and NETL inventions awarded the R&D 100 and Carnegie Science awards in 2019, CorePower Magnetics brings to market a step change in magnetics core performance with up to 10x weight reduction, up to 5x volume reduction, up to 2x loss reduction and without the need for expensive rare earth materials. CorePower Magnetics’ technology can have broad implications across electric grid modernization efforts, production of electric vehicles and aviation through its smaller, lighter and more efficient components.

“Our role at NETL is to pursue research and development from idea to market and to play a pivotal role in the energy innovation ecosystem,” said NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D. “This technology, which includes innovations NETL developed in partnership with CMU, offers multiple benefits to the American people, from power generation to transportation and beyond. To see the technology advance from concept to commercialization with CorePower Magnetics is very rewarding.”

According to a 2020 report by BCC Research on soft magnetics, demand for nanocrystalline alloys will exceed $5 billion with a compounded annual growth rate of 18% in 2024. Meeting this demand holds the promise of new job opportunities and economic development. This can also lead to the widespread adoption of technologies that can decrease energy consumption through increased efficiencies, thereby reducing the nation’s carbon footprint, goals shared by the Biden-Harris Administration and NETL.

“Modern grid and electric transportation demands have been waiting for materials advances to unlock efficiencies and move away from large, heavy components. With this technology, we are making that happen,” Sam Kernion, CEO of CorePower Magnetics, said in a press release.

Other examples of NETL Success Stories can be viewed here.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.