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How and Where Manganese & Magnesium is Used

Commodities / Metals & Mining Dec 01, 2010 - 03:50 AM GMT

By: Anthony_David


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleManganese is found in nature as a free element, in combination with iron and many other minerals. The most important industrial use of manganese is as an alloy, predominantly in the steel industry. In fact, there is no comparative substitute for manganese in its primary applications. Pure magnesium, on the other hand, is not found as a free element because of its highly reactive nature. The primary industrial applications of magnesium are as a component of aluminum and zinc alloys, in the removal of sulfur in the iron and steel-manufacturing sector, and in the production of metals such as titanium.

Steel Industry
Almost 85–90% of the global manganese production is utilized in the steel industry, where it is used as a desulfurizing and deoxidizing agent by virtue of its ability to combine with sulfur and its powerful deoxidation capacity. Almost all steel contains some amount of manganese but Hadfield steel, which contains 10–15% of manganese, attains a remarkably high tensile strength and is used to make products such as helmets.

Ferromanganese is added to steel to harden and toughen it without making it brittle, and to increase its abrasion resistance. The alloy is produced by heating a mixture of iron oxide and manganese oxide with carbon (coke and coal), in either a submerged arc furnace or a blast furnace where the carbon acts as a reductant. The reaction produces ferromanganese, which contains a high 76–80% of manganese.

Silicomanganese contains about 65–68% of manganese and significantly lower carbon because of the presence of silicon. When its carbon content is less than 0.1%, it is used as a reducing agent to produce low-carbon ferromanganese. Electrolytic manganese is used in products that require manganese in its pure form. Manganese ore is taken through several treatment processes to obtain manganese of almost 99.9% purity.

In the steel industry, magnesium is added with lime and other fillers to liquid iron in the blast furnace where it combines with oxygen and sulfur and improves the mechanical properties of steel. Magnesium is also used in the production of hafnium, uranium, and titanium, and zirconium.

Aluminum Industry
The aluminum industry is the second largest user of manganese where it is used as an alloying agent. Manganese content of about 1.5% increases the corrosion resistance of aluminum. Aluminum alloys with a manganese content of 0.8–1.5% are used to manufacture beverage cans. Copper too can be strengthened with the addition of manganese.

Magnesium is the lightest known structural metal. It is lighter than aluminum and that makes it invaluable as an alloying element with aluminum. Magnesium is the only metal that can be added to aluminum to harden it without increasing its specific gravity. Magnesium added to aluminum also increases its corrosion resistance.

Dry Cell Batteries
Manganese dioxide is largely used as a depolarizer in dry cell batteries. Although found naturally, manganese dioxide is synthetically produced by the electrolysis of reduced manganese ore. This use of manganese dioxide is on the decline as people are turning to lithium ion batteries.

The electronegative nature of magnesium makes it useful in the manufacture of dry cell batteries. Magnesium also plays a role in the electronic device industry where it is used in the manufacture of mobile phones, cameras, and laptop computers, among others.

Other Uses of Manganese
Manganese oxide is used as a fertilizer supplement as well. The oxide obtained by the reduction of manganese dioxide is used in the fertilizer industry. The oxide is easily assimilated by plants and often used in manganese deficient agricultural lands as well.

Other Critical Uses of Magnesium
Magnesium alloys have a high strength to weight ratio and that makes them very popular in the manufacturing industry, especially in the automotive sector. Leading automobile manufacturers such as BMW, Porsche, the Volkswagen Group and Mitsubishi Motors have been using magnesium in their cars for its lightweight nature that lends itself to great speeds. The aerospace industry is increasingly turning to magnesium too for the same two qualities.

Magnesium alloys are also used to manufacture portable equipment and parts that are subject to frequent changes in position. The excellent machinability of the alloys and their relatively lower cost are other reasons for their popularity.

Magnesium has a very high affinity for oxygen, rendering it the strongest deoxidant available. In a finely divided condition, its affinity for oxygen makes magnesium burn with a bright white light and intense heat. It is because of this property that it is used in flash photography and pyrotechnics.

By Anthony David

The mission of the Critical Strategic Metals Web Site

is to serve as a monthly compass for those who take a fundamental view of investment regarding the Molybdenum, Manganese and Magnesium metals markets, are concerned with the emerging critical under-supply of these strategic metals to Western nations and wish to profitability chart their course. Each month we will research and provide, in as short and concise a manner as possible, the most applicable information available on resources that will have the biggest impact on our day to day lives. Click here to sign-up for our FREE monthly report

© 2010 Copyright  Anthony David- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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