His powdered, or sintered, process is more expensive than the American’s melt-spun and bonded product and doesn’t have quite the same versatility of application, but the end magnet is significantly stronger, unit for unit. “You can have a great idea on paper but to be successful you have to prove you can make something at scale, and at a price that people will get behind,” Lord Browne told BBC News. “The essence of engineering is that you have to deliver. Scientists come up with lots of great ideas; the Higgs Boson, fantastic. But engineering has to do something, and Sagawa’s innovation did this very successfully.”The 78 year-old continues to hone his technology. He’s currently trying to reduce the amount of another rare-earth element that is used in trace amounts. This is dysprosium (Dy), which further improves a magnet’s resistance to heat. But Dy is very scarce.”We want to lower dysprosium’s use to less than 1% of composition, and preferably not use it at all,” Dr Sagawa explained. “If we can do this, it will see neodymium magnets applied even more widely into the marketplace, especially around electric vehicles.” The magnet pioneer will be formally honoured at a special ceremony later in the year. His QEPrize trophy, as for past laureates, has been designed by young a competition winner. This year it is Anshika Agarwal, aged 17, from India.