Magnesium is a shiny gray metal that is light in weight with a density of 1.738 g/cm3. It is the lightest structural metal and its strength-to-weight ratio is very high. These advantageous physical properties make magnesium useful for applications where weight needs to be reduced. Given its reactivity, magnesium does not occur naturally in its metallic form and typically exists combined with other elements like oxygen, sulfur and chlorine. Some key properties of magnesium include its high thermal conductivity, low density and relatively high strength.

Magnesium finds numerous applications across industries like automotive, aerospace, electronics and construction due to these desirable characteristics. In the automotive sector, it is used for manufacturing auto parts that require lightweighting to improve fuel efficiency. Common magnesium auto components include engine covers, clutch housings and transmission cases. Aircraft components like space frames, seating structures and instrument panels also utilize magnesium to reduce overall vehicle weight. Electronics applications involve magnesium alloys in manufacturing portable electronic devices, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Other major uses consist of die casting alloys for various consumer and industrial goods.

Production and Supply of Magnesium

China dominates Magnesium Metal production with a share of more than 80%. The other major producers are Israel, Russia, Kazakhstan and the USA. Natural sources of magnesium primarily consist of magnesite, dolomite and carnallite deposits. However, seawater also contains abundant amounts of magnesium and some production facilities extract it through the Pidgeon process.

The Pidgeon process involves precipitation of magnesium hydroxide from seawater, calcination to produce magnesium oxide and subsequent electrothermal reduction in the presence of calcium into magnesium metal and calcium oxide slag. Magnesium production from seawater enjoys advantage of access to an almost unlimited resource without mining concerns. However, it remains an energy-intensive process currently. Majority of global magnesium output relies on mining magnesite and carnallite ores which are then thermally reduced or electrolytically refined into final metal.

Rising Demand and Future Outlook

Over the last few decades, growing use of magnesium across industries like automotive and electronics has surged the global demand for this light metal. As per estimates, worldwide magnesium consumption increased from around 851,000 metric tonnes in 2011 to 1,134,000 metric tonnes in 2021. With continuing emphasis on lightweight materials to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, demand from automotive industry is expected to boost further.

Adoption of magnesium metal in electric vehicles provides another growth avenue going ahead. Stringent emission norms will drive more magnesium utilization in automotive parts production. Expanding use of portable electronics will also propel magnesium alloy demand. As renewable energy and energy storage gain traction, magnesium is poised for increased usage in batteries and related technologies. Capacity additions by leading producers and development of advanced extraction processes from seawater points to a positive outlook. However, volatility in input costs poses a challenge. If supply concerns can be addressed, magnesium stands to benefit greatly from emerging requirements across multiple sectors.

Applications is Construction Industry

As a construction material, pure magnesium in sheet form finds niche applications for roofing and cladding in areas requiring fire resistance. However, magnesium alloy is more widely used due its improved formability and corrosion resistance properties. Common construction alloys contain aluminum and manganese. Architectural applications involve extruded panels or sheets for wall cladding, fascias and soffits. Magnesium alloy is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly substitute for less sustainable materials like aluminum or plastics. Possessing good thermal stability as well as dimensional stability, it performs well under varying weather conditions with minimal maintenance needs.

In pre-cast construction, magnesium metal provide lightweight formwork that facilitates faster construction. Productivity gains from easier handling and quicker erection times using magnesium scaffolding deliver cost benefits. Other applications consist of decking materials, shuttering accessories and road sign supports where magnesium alloys combine strength and corrosion resistance suitable for outdoor exposure. Physical characteristics like high recyclability also makes it compatible with sustainable building objectives. While facing competition from aluminum, strategic focus on end-use properties can enhance magnesium acceptance within the construction industry.

Magnesium possesses ideal properties of high strength and low density offering weight reduction benefits across sectors. Rising environmental concerns and fuel efficiency standards will propel further magnesium usage in automotive and transportation segments. Continued capacity expansions along with renewable extraction technologies indicate a positive long-term outlook. Government policies supporting lightweight electric vehicles and emission targets present opportunities for market growth. Applications in electronics and energy storage also point to strong future demand. If supply stability can match rising consumption levels globally, magnesium is well placed to reinforce its standing as indispensable metal of modern industries.

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