Our award-winning MagSonic technology uses carbothermal reduction and a supersonic nozzle to directly produce high quality magnesium metal. It is an efficient and cost-effective alternative for producing magnesium, using up to 70 per cent less carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions than traditional methods.
Stopping magnesium oxidation
A lot of the current commercial production methods for magnesium rely on silicothermic and electrolytic processes, where the mineral ore is extracted.
Magnesium is a very reactive metal so one of the biggest challenges with these processes is the tendency for magnesium to revert to magnesium oxide as the reaction products cool.
Cooling greater than the speed of sound
We created a new process for magnesium production, which relies on carbothermal reduction and a supersonic nozzle, to rapidly cool the magnesium vapour, preventing the reversion reaction.
Our researchers engineered a system that allows ultra-rapid quenching (cooling) of magnesium vapour as it is produced. At high-temperature, magnesium vapour and carbon monoxide gas, produced via carbothermal reduction, is passed through a Laval nozzle at four times the speed of sound. The nozzle is essentially a rocket engine, cooling the gases in milliseconds. The magnesium rapidly condenses and solidifies, and can then be separated from the carbon monoxide, resulting in magnesium metal.
Magnesium powder may be recovered from the process directly, or high-purity metal ingot can be produced after distillation.
Supersonic award winner
Our team has demonstrated production of both powder and purified magnesium in the laboratory and is now focused on improving product quality and yield, to be scaled up to pilot plant construction and operation.
Cleaner and cheaper availability of this lightweight metal will have flow on effects such as lighter more fuel efficient vehicles.
The MagSonic technology received the 2011 Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) innovation and excellence award for Sustainable Technology.
We continue to work with partners to accelerate the technology and bring it to market.
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