The global metals and alloys industry is transitioning in terms of innovation and development of new alloys to improve tensile strength and other properties of the conventional metals. Magnesium is one of the most abundantly found elements in the world. It is found primarily in the surface of ocean beds in the form of dolomite, magnesite, and carnallite minerals. Alloying magnesium improves its heat resistance, tensile strength, and creep resistance. Magnesium alloys are used as an alternatives to aluminum and iron metals for weight reduction and to improve tensile strength of the material. Magnesium alloys have excellent corrosion resistant property and are considerably light in weight; therefore, they are utilized in a wide range of applications such as portable electronic devices, automobile parts, computer parts, and portable telephones. Additionally, improved heat resistance and strength of magnesium alloys have extended their application in automotive frame manufacturing and the aerospace industry.
Magnesium reserves around the globe is about two-fifth that of iron, quarter that of aluminum and 190 times higher than those of copper and nickel. The high abundance of magnesium makes it as one of the most inexhaustible resource distributed all over the world. Magnesium is one of the lightest metals used in making frames, structures, and cellular mobile phones parts. Magnesium has a density of about one-quarter that of iron and two-third that of aluminum. Magnesium alloys have excellent shielding property and can provide protection from electromagnetic waves, allowing its use in the aerospace industry.
Magnesium alloys are produced in definite proportions with aluminum, zinc, manganese, and other rare Earth metals to form different alloys with distinctive physical properties. These alloys are produced by electrolysis and thermal reduction processes. In electrolysis, magnesium chloride is first extracted from the ores and reduced to a metallic form using the electrolysis process. In the thermal reduction process, magnesium oxide is extracted from the ores by adding reducing agents such as ferrosilicon. The extracted material is refined at high temperature and pressure to form a pure magnesium alloy.
Magnesium alloys have excellent dent resistance, machinability, and good vibration damping, which makes it a preferred choice in automotive and electronics industries. Magnesium alloys are non-toxic in nature and are used as biodegradable implants in the human body. Some major shortcomings of the magnesium alloys are poor heat-resistance, poor corrosion, and elongation. Most of magnesium alloys tend to corrode owing to the traces of metals such as nickel, iron, and copper present in the alloys. Increase in purity of magnesium is anticipated to improve the corrosion resistance property in magnesium alloys. Most these alloys are surface treated to prevent them from corrosion, when they come in contact with other metals. Some of the commonly used magnesium alloys are AZ-based Mg alloys, AZ91-based Mg alloys, AZ91D-based Mg alloys, and AZ31C-based Mg alloys.
AZ-based magnesium alloys are produced by adding zinc and aluminum to purified magnesium. These alloys show improved strength, workability, weldability, castability, and corrosion resistance. AZ91-based alloys have excellent castability and mechanical properties. Most of the AZ91D-based magnesium alloys possess high corrosion resistance and purity. These are used in making notebook PCs, car parts, and portable telephones. AZ31C-based magnesium alloys have high weldability and formability, primarily utilized as elongating materials for pipes, plates, and rods. Some of these magnesium alloys are produced by adding rare earth elements such as neodymium and cerium, which have high tensile strength and excellent heat & creep resistance at higher temperature.
Rise in demand for automobiles, mobile phones, and notebook PCs made using magnesium alloys is likely to drive the market for magnesium alloys. Asia Pacific accounted for a significant share of the magnesium alloys market. Growing application of magnesium alloys in reinforced automotive frames, biomedical, healthcare, and aerospace industries is expected to drive the demand for magnesium alloys in the near future. Availability of magnesium ores, cost effective manufacturing, and rise in indigenous production of magnesium alloys are expected to drive the magnesium alloys market in this region. Growing popularity of magnesium alloys in artificial human implants are expected to drive the magnesium alloys market in medical applications around the globe. High flammability, corrosion, and elongation at high temperature of magnesium alloys are anticipated to restrain the market.
Key global players producing magnesium alloys are Globe Specialty Metals, Magontec Ltd., Nanjing Yunhai Special Metals Co., Yinguang Weijie Magnesium Industry Co, Fugu Jinwantong Magnesium Industry Co., and Ningxia Hui-ye Magnesium Marketing Group Co.,Ltd.