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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg.

  • Magnesium is the ninth most abundant element in the universe by mass.

  • It constitutes about 2% of the Earth's crust by mass, and it is the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater.

  • Elemental magnesium is a fairly strong, silvery-white, light-weight metal.

  • It tarnishes slightly when exposed to air, although unlike the alkaline metals, storage in an oxygen free environment is unnecessary because magnesium is protected by a thin layer of oxide which is fairly impermeable and hard to remove.

  • Magnesium is a highly flammable metal, but while it is easy to ignite when powdered or shaved into thin strips, it is difficult to ignite in mass or bulk.

  • Magnesium compounds are typically white crystals. Most are soluble in water, providing the sour-tasting magnesium ion Mg2+. Small amounts of dissolved magnesium ion contributes to the tartness and taste of natural waters.

Process

  • Magnesium is produced from calcined dolomite under vacuum and at high temperatures using silicon as a reducing agent.

  • Magnesium metal is now recovered by two major process routes.

  • The first is the electrolytic recovery of metal from Magnesium chloride that has been recovered from the raw materials- mostly magnesite and carnellite, but also sea water.

  • The second is the thermic reduction under vaccum of calcined dolomite with the addition of ferr-silicon or aluminium.

  • There are two thermic processes.- the Magnetherm process and the Pidgeon process.

  • In the carbotherm ic process, magnesium oxide is reduced with carbon using modified shock cooling to produce magnesium and carbon monoxide. Both products are in the vapor phase.

  • The silicothermic process is based on the rea ction of silica with carbon to give silicon metal which is subsequently used to produce magnesium by reaction with calcined dolomite. The Pidgeon and Magnetherm processes employ this procedure.

Applications

  • Magnesium, in its purest form, can be compared with aluminium, and is strong and light, so it is used in several high volume part manufacturing applications, including automotive and truck components.

  • The second application field of magnesium is electronic devices. Due to low weight, good mechanical and electrical properties, magnesium is widely used for manufacturing of mobile phones, laptop computers, cameras, and other electronic components.

  • Magnesium is even used to make some higher end yo-yos, such as the Duncan Freehand Mg.

  • Magnesium alloy products are used for military applications in a wide range of forms including castings, powders and wrought products.

Market

  • World production of primary magnesium metal increased. The major portion of the increase again came from China, which produced a record 438,000 t.

  • Primary magnesium production in the US was estimated as 43,000 t. The U.S. magnesium producer announced that it would increase its production capacity from 43,000 tons per year to more than 50,000 tons per year.

  • World demand for magnesium grew at an estimated rate of 16%. This includes estimates for the magnesium used within China and the CIS.

  • The strongest growth area continued to be die-casting. There was also an increase in the magnesium used to alloy with aluminium. The principal area of die-casting use continued to be automotive.

  • Current world consumption of magnesium metal and magnesium alloys is in excess of 750,000 tonne per annum. Market projections indicate that consumption will increase rapidly to over 500,000 tonne per annum.

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