Magnesium is not solely used for the creation of structural products. Its unique properties as an element allow its use in a variety of non-structural applications.
Sulfur is damaging to steel and therefore its content must be drastically reduced within the material. Magnesium's high affinity for sulfur is utilized in desulfurization. Magnesium is injected into molten iron or steel which in turn reduces the sulfur content within the steel.
Magnesium is also used in the creation of ductile cast iron, also known as nodular cast iron or spherulitic graphite cast iron. Ductile cast iron is a cast iron that is treated while in its molten state with magnesium. This addition induces the formation of free graphite as spherulite nodules rather than as flakes resulting in a measurable degree of ductility within the cast metal. Automotive components and pipe are common applications of ductile cast iron.
Magnesium can also be used in electrochemical applications. In underground pipelines, storage tanks, domestic water heaters and other similar environments, magnesium anodes can be used in the prevention of galvanic corrosion of steel. This suppressed corrosion decreases leaks which contributes to increased safety and resource conservation.
In the production of beryllium, titanium, zirconium, hafnium and uranium, magnesium is used as a reducing agent. It is also used in industrial synthesis such as the Grignard reaction in organic chemistry applications.
Magnesium is also used in either its pure form of alloyed with up to 30 percent or more of aluminum to create pyrotechnics. Due to its high flammability in fine or powdered forms, it is an ideal choice in this application. The metal can also be found in dry cell and reserve cell batteries, primarily in military applications.
Wrought magnesium alloy plates are used in the printing industry for photoengraving. Magnesium etches rapidly therefore providing a sharp impression with by-products that are less hazardous than alternative metals.
Image: Chicago White Metal