Research targets cost-effectiveness of low-volume magnesium parts

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Researchers at Birmingham City University in the UK are hoping to transform the fortunes of magnesium in 2017, by showcasing it as a viable alternative for luxury car makers and the aerospace industry. The institution has signed an exclusive partnership with a large producer of magnesium components, Meridian, that will see the two organizations work together in the education, research and development of magnesium use.

Magnesium is produced from sea water, brines and magnesium-bearing minerals, with an estimated 500,000 metric tons produced each year. Birmingham City University says that at 1.8g/cm³, magnesium is 75% lighter than steel and 33% lighter than aluminum. It also says the material is the eighth most abundant chemical element in the earth’s crust and is 100% recyclable.

As part of the new partnership, Meridian personnel and academics from Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment will investigate new ways to offer more sustainable goods for low-volume manufacturers, while making production financially viable for Meridian and its potential clients. Research findings will be published ahead of an international magnesium conference, which will be held at Birmingham City University in July 2017.

The university says that two psychologists from its Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences have also been appointed to interview UK engineers to try to understand why there has been a historical aversion to designing products with magnesium.

Current magnesium manufacturing processes create the same amount of waste as product and the Birmingham City University Magnesium Innovation Group will be investigating ways on how value can be created from excess material.

“As well as benefiting Meridian’s work here in the Midlands, we hope that our findings can enhance lightweight technologies around the world, ensuring that low-volume manufacturers in the automobile and aerospace industries have access to cost-effective and sustainable magnesium components,” said Professor Hanifa Shah, associate dean (research and enterprise) at the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment at Birmingham City University.

January 16, 2017

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria, Railway Interiors International and Winter Sports Technology International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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