The Magnesium Factsheet

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Published: 07th January 2011
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The magnesium element is being used throughout the manufacturing sector as the alternative to steel and aluminum. With its emergence in everything from computers, to cars and even bone implants, more and more people are trying to find out…Just what is this metal called magnesium?



Origins

Magnesium is found within the earth’s crust and in the oceans around the world. In fact, is it in the eighth most abundant element in the world. Magnesium is not found free in nature, but always attached to some other element or compound. The metal is extracted from dolomite, carnalite, and seawater. It is also found naturally in the human body, primarily within the bones. In fact, many people must take magnesium supplements in order to keep the levels within the body normal.



The Chemical

On the periodic table, magnesium sits among the alkaline earth metals alongside calcium, barium, and beryllium. The element forms bonds easily and as stated before, is never found free in nature. It is extracted from seawater by electrolysis and from minerals like dolomite through reduction.



Magnesium is the lightest metal used in structural engineering (buildings, bridges, etc.). It is lighter than both steel and aluminum, but has the strength of both. It has a high dampening capacity, meaning that magnesium can absorb vibrations much better than the other structural metals. The metal is rigid and has a high resistance to corrosion when used as an alloy. The metal is also recyclable, abundant in the earth, and easy to fabricate.



Uses

Because of these qualities, magnesium is being used increasingly to replace steel and 100 percent aluminum in manufacturing, medicine, aerospace and more. When fabricated in sheet form, it is more versatile than ever. Magnesium sheets are used in the exterior construction of cars and trucks, it can be rolled into stents, shaped into frames and other materials. In addition to aluminum, magnesium forms alloys with zinc and lead as well as other alloys that are considered non-ferrous. These are used in constructing everything from missiles, pyrotechnics, power tools and light fixtures.



Organic magnesium, or that found within the body, is used alongside calcium in building bones within the body, which is why usage in bone implants is such a natural fit. The body adjusts to the magnesium much easier because it is a familiar component. The implant dissolves into the body as the new bone grows in its place, reducing the need for secondary surgeries to removes implants. The metal’s lightweight and strength also works for automobiles and airplanes.



Magnesium is a versatile element that is making waves in the engineering, research and development departments in many industries. Understanding the metal can help consumers in deciding whether the switch to a magnesium alloy product, or stick with the familiar but less efficient metals.

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