The CSIRO and Enirgi Group have announced a new technology for the production of magnesium which uses up to 80 percent less energy and emits up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide emissions.
Cleaner, cheaper, lightweight magnesium is sure to be of interest for the automotive industry especially in this era where electric vehicles are at the forefront of new product development.
And that’s great news for Australia which has massive untapped reserves of magnesite ore.
At the heart of the CSIRO’s ‘MagSonic’ technology is a rocket-engine-like supersonic nozzle.
The raw material (magnesia) is heated with carbon to produce magnesium vapour and carbon monoxide which are then passed through the nozzle at four times the speed of sound. This cools the gasses in milliseconds to condense and solidify the magnesium vapour to magnesium metal.
Enirgi Group and the CSIRO are now working to further develop and validate this technology which overcomes the major drawbacks of existing procedures (too labour intensive and expensive).
When commercialisation is confirmed, Enirgy Group has the option to secure an exclusive global licence for MagSonic production and plans to develop a massive magnesium production facility in Australia (location to be determined).
As the automotive industry increasingly looks for strong, lightweight materials, economically viable magnesium could be a very timely breakthrough technology.
“The growth of magnesium use has been limited because it’s been too expenisve and labour-intensive to produce the metal from ore using traditional processes,” explained the CSIRO’s Dr Mark Cooksey. “Our MagSonic technology offers an economically-viable solution to overcome these issues and make clean magnesium more available and affordable to manufacturers.”