Magnesium set to become top choice for energy efficiency in transportation

March 1st, 2009 - 12:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 1 (ANI): Magnesium is all set to become the material of choice in vehicles, as designers strive to improve energy efficiency in transportation. According to ASM International, the materials information society, magnesium and its alloys are being considered for structural applications in every type of vehicle because of their favorable combination of tensile strength, elastic modulus, and low density. Robert E. Brown of the Magnesium Assistance Group Inc., Prattville, Alabama, said that magnesium alloys have high strength-to-weight ratios and relatively good electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as high damping capacity. “Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’’s crust, and the third most plentiful element dissolved in seawater,” he said. “Because magnesium is found in seawater, it is available in almost limitless quantities: A cubic mile of seawater contains six million tons of magnesium metal,” he added. Magnesium as a structural material has been “up and down” during the 20th Century. “As the world supply increases and a new legion of energized researchers and scientists address the many aspects of the most abundant structural metal, magnesium will again rebound to new heights. The present trend indicates that China will be a major contributor to this development,” Brown explained. Two major magnesium alloy systems are available. The first includes alloys that contain 2 to 10 percent aluminum, combined with minor additions of zinc and manganese. The second group consists of magnesium alloyed with elements such as rare earths, zinc, thorium, silver, and silicon (but not aluminum), all containing a small but effective zirconium content that imparts a fine-grain structure (and thus improved mechanical properties). These alloys generally possess better elevated-temperature properties, but they are more expensive because of their more costly elemental additions and specialized manufacturing technology. “Realistically, world production must grow to over one million metric tons per year if it is to be seriously considered for widespread applications,” Brown said. The largest amounts of magnesium will continue to be for aluminum alloying, but Brown expects that it will continue to be needed for desulfurization of steel “if the price is competitive.” Interest in magnesium is growing in technologies such as thixomolding, extrusions, sheet, and forgings. “Magnesium can also provide huge provide huge structural and economic advantages in automotive and aerospace applications, based on life cycle analysis,” Brown said. (ANI)

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