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2010 IMA Environmental Responsibility Award

International Environmental Responsibility Award/Magnesium Production and Processing Winner:

Magnesium Elektron, Manchester, UK, has achieved strict environmental goals across technical and production areas during years of sustained targeted effort, significantly reducing their overall carbon footprint since the year 2000. Magnesium Elektron, a leading producer of high-performance magnesium alloy systems and products, is part of the Luxfer Group, an international manufacturer of high-performance engineering materials, including magnesium alloys.

Magnesium Elektron has developed new casting and melting techniques and intensively researched environmentally-friendly protective gases to achieve a 90 percent reduction in its equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a dramatic drop in cover gas use. Magnesium Elektron UK became accredited to BS EN ISO 14001:2004 in 2008, and has since achieved full compliance, using innovative solutions to reduce and remove waste and pollutants, notably reducing the use of Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) cover gas with an alternative gas that emits substantially less CO2 into the air.

Auditors acknowledge that the company’s approach embraces business growth while at the same time minimizing environmental impact. Magnesium Elektron has successfully implemented advanced methods to achieve environmental benefits. Company teams examined magnesium operations, identifying ways to eliminate waste and pollutants to reduce emissions and create value. In one such example, Magnesium Elektron has installed a metal recovery system in its main foundry to separate recyclable magnesium metal from drosses present at the end of the casting cycle. Research and development continues, as the company targets further substantial reductions over the next three years.

International Environmental Responsibility Award/Magnesium Applications and Components Winner:

Oskar Frech GmbH + Co., KG, Schorndorf, Germany, has developed two machined components that individually save up to 70 percent of energy consumed during the die casting process. Oskar Frech’s patented nozzle and gooseneck heating system optimize energy efficiency using a special heating element to direct precisely where and when heat is required during the casting process. This system greatly reduces energy losses due to partial overheating and heating of associated components. Regulating and monitoring heating circuits yields exact, repeatable temperature control for all hot chamber die casting machines. This avoids excessive heating while providing process safety during heating, start-up and production. The innovative nozzle and gooseneck equipment provides the basis for a die casting tooling technology that allows reduction of runners and spreaders, which in turn reduces the amount of return material.

Oskar Frech’s award also recognizes their two-chamber insulated magnesium melting/holding furnace system innovations. Tremendous energy-saving potential of a die casting cell occurs in the melting/holding furnace. When combined with a specially insulated crucible cover, 30 to 40 percent less energy is required to maintain a constant melt temperature. These technical insulation advances effectively reduce CO2 contamination in every die casting cell and achieve significant energy and cost savings.

Oskar Frech’s Managing Director, Dr. Norbert Erhard asserts:“The die casting process itself must be included purposefully in developments to reach an effect beyond pure energy savings. Our furnace system creates new possibilities in die design, so that deep immersing in the die is possible in magnesium die casting. Gating can be shortened and return material reduced, giving further savings in total ecological balance of the production process. Without including the die casting process when designing the heating system, this potential would not be realized."

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