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STTR Phase I: Continuous Production and Collection of Magnesium via Carbothermal Reduction
Phone: (970) 692-3384
Phone: (970) 692-3384
Contact: Alan Weimer
Type: Nonprofit College or University
This STTR Phase I project addresses the problem of embedded energy in the manufacture of magnesium metal for use in vehicle light-weighting. Improving fuel economy by incorporation of light metals, especially magnesium, does not save on total lifecycle energy consumed if the magnesium was produced using conventional methods. The most energy efficient production method known is a process technology that was commercially viable during the 2nd World War but not at any other time in history. The project innovation is based on reinvestigation and reinvention of this dated process, discovering and addressing the reasons for technical and economic failure. Domestic magnesium production using the proposed state-of-the-art energy-efficient practices will lead to opportunity and growth for downstream manufacturing methods that support a wide range of military, industrial, and consumer products such as car parts, electronic devices, titanium production, and canned beverages. The economic and environmental benefits of the innovation in the long term will be ever more prescient given the unprecedented rise in use of magnesium metal over the past 100 years and expected continuance of this rate of adoption. Production of magnesium using carbothermic chemistry can be realized at temperatures below 1250 degree C using a combination of three operational parameters: 1) reduced pressure atmosphere, 2) addition of a catalytic material, and 3) extensive size reduction of the reactant materials. In conjunction with a continuous condensation and collection system, magnesium produced from this process entails at least a 50% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to the predominant Pidgeon process. The project will employ a variety of high temperature experimental systems and methods to investigate performance of pelletized reactant materials and obtain recovered metal yields above 85%. An optimized composition will be statistically determined and used in a low-temperature prototype reactor system for continuous production of crude magnesium. The goal of the project is to produce a casted magnesium product and prove the reduction of energy intensity and economic feasibility with a techno-economic analysis.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *