In the premises of the Néel Institute within the CNRS of Grenoble, MagREEsource, is today cramped. The start-up should soon move. Created in October 2020, the company has developed a patented process for sintering old magnets to extract rare earths. These are reduced to powder by hydrogenation.
Erick Petit, president and co-founder of MagREEsource with researcher Sophie Rivoirard underlines the advantages: “Our method is super clean, without rejection in nature, it is not an acid bath. »
In addition to the environmental interest, the sector is buoyant: permanent magnets are omnipresent in ecological transition technologies. They are essential for electric motors, in particular for wind turbines or cars, the fields of defense or robotics also being targeted. However, the current magnets are almost exclusively produced in China, hence the issue of sovereignty that the technological expertise of MagREEsource takes on.
Fundraising in progress
In order to supply the market with ready-to-use magnets, the company has also developed a second manufacturing process, also patented, known as “additive” based on the principle of 3D printing. “Today, our problem lies in industrial capacities, and not in finding customers. Discussions are already underway.
At the same time, the machines are being developed, which constitutes a challenge: “Currently, the cannibalization of the market is such that all the standard elements are of Chinese manufacture”, emphasizes Erick Petit.
After its move, MagREEsource plans to raise funds of 3.5 million euros in order to enter the industrialization phase with the creation, next September, of a pilot production line. A capacity of 50 to 60 tons is targeted by the end of the year, with a target of 500 tons within three years.
According to its business plan, the start-up expects a turnover of 25 million euros in five years. As for its workforce, it should support this growth by doubling from 8 people to 17 at the end of the year, then to 31 employees in 2023.
MagREEsource IN BRIEF
Creation date : 2020
President : Erick Small
Effective : 8 people