Symposium: thoughts and reflections on magnesium use

12th July 2017
Lanna Cooper


Academics, engineers and industry leaders will be heading to Birmingham later this month for a symposium that aims to put magnesium at the heart of the global manufacturing sector. 

Held at Birmingham City University, ‘Thoughts and Reflections on Magnesium Use: Symposium’ will be showcasing the metal as an alternative material - particularly for car manufacturers and the aerospace industry - in terms of lightweighting, fuel efficiency and the circular economy.

At 1.8g/cm³, magnesium is the lightest of all structural materials, the eighth most abundant chemical element in the earth’s crust and is 100% recyclable.

The inaugural symposium has grown out of a exclusive partnership between Birmingham City University and the UK arm of Meridian - producer of magnesium components - which was signed earlier this year. The two organisations are currently working together in the research, development and education of magnesium use.

As part of the strategic alliance, for example, academics from Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment and personnel from Meridian’s Sutton-in-Ashfield plant have been investigating new ways to offer more sustainable goods for low volume manufacturers, whilst making production financially viable for the company and its potential clients.

Other partners involved in the collaboration include the International Magnesium Association (IMA), the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI) and Forum for the Future - all of whom will be at the symposium to share their current thinking around the utilisation of magnesium.

Stephen Brown, Engineering Manager, Meridian Lightweight Technologies United Kingdom (MLTUK), said: “Magnesium, designed and optimised in the correct manner, will provide an enhanced strength, stiffness and stability, and will deliver a higher specific yield strength and specific modulus than nearly all other structural metals.

“Our partnership with Birmingham City University is committed to improving the industry understanding of magnesium and will encourage the automotive industry to improve. The industry is increasing its use of magnesium yearly and our partnership intends to lead the sector, which presently lacks the skills and expertise regarding the ‘dos and don’ts’ necessary when designing and developing in magnesium. 

“Misconceptions are still rife at Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) engineering level. However, Meridian are committed to tackling this issue wherever we can, and in the most professional manner, in partnership with Birmingham City University.”

Magnesium is produced from sea water, brines and magnesium-bearing minerals which offer unlimited reserves, with an estimated 500,000 metric tons produced each year. It is 75% lighter than steel and 33% lighter than aluminium.

Dr Umar Daraz, Director for the Institute of Sustainable Futures at Birmingham City University, said: “As part of our collaboration with MLTUK, Birmingham City University has established the multidisciplinary Magnesium Innovation Group. We are keen to support a Midlands-based company - with international links in China and Canada - with innovations that support needs pre and post-Brexit in important sectors.

“A cluster of 10 academics have worked in close partnership with technical and engineering leads at MLTUK. Current magnesium manufacturing processes create the same amount of waste as product, and the Magnesium Innovation Group are investigating ways on how value can be created from excess material, for example.

“Elsewhere, two psychologists from our Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences have spent time interviewing engineers from across the UK. Working with MLTUK, they are trying to understand why there has been a historical aversion to designing products with magnesium, when compared to less sustainable and heavier metals.”

For more information about the event click here.

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