Thursday, April 20, 2017

Magnesium - Use in Automobiles

Update on 23 April 2017

Magnesium alloys are widely used in automotive applications, 3C (computer, communication,
and consumer electronics), tools, and to some extent in aerospace and aeronautics. Their main
advantage is low density. Aluminum alloys with a density of ~2.8 g/cm are 50% heavier compared
with magnesium alloys having a density of ~1.8 g/cm . The low density of magnesium alloys has a
significant economic savings effect and this is especially true in the aerospace and aeronautic industries. Here, the use of magnesium casting alloys for pumps, housings, accessories, and hardware for the handling of liquefied gases is of interest. Magnesium wrought alloys in sheets or extrusions may be used for tanks of liquefied gases, extruded ribs, and connectors. Most of the magnesium alloys have been developed and used with High Pressure Die Casting (HPDC). They contain a minimum of 4 wt. % Al to improve their castability and several other alloying elements to improve their corrosion properties, strength, and creep resistance. There are only a few
magnesium alloys for wrought applications in the market. AZ31 is the most widely investigated
alloy, but AZ80 and ZE10 are also used.

Source: Influence of Cryogenic Temperatures on the Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of
Magnesium Alloys: A Review by Hajo Dieringa

Research Alliance for Magnesium in Automotive Applications

The researchers at Birmingham City University have signed a deal with Meridian — a leading manufacturer of magnesium components in the auto industry — to promote the use of magnesium as an alternative to aluminum and steel. The research alliance will explore new methods to make its production more economic for Meridian as well as its clients. The alliance has set sustainability and weight savings as top objectives in achieving fuel efficiency.

Benefits of using magnesum

It is abundant on the earth. Magnesium has unique 100 percent recyclable property. Magnesium is 75 percent lighter than steel and 33 percent lighter than aluminum.

Meridian, produces 5,000 net metric tons of die-cast products a year in the UK plant and serves number automobile manufactures  including Jaguar, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Honda, and Volvo.
But the current manufacturing methods had been costly  and the small volume players are not able to utlize magnesium components because of it. The partnership will aim to reduce manufacturing costs and overcome this barrier for low volume manufacturers and this would help to increase use of magnesium in aviation sector also. Another core area of investigation will be the reduction of waste, as the current production process of magnesium creates product and waste in almost equal quantity.

A section of players in the auto industry, despite being convinced about the high utility of magnesium in instrument panels, are wary of the high costs in sourcing the material.
Previously, the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Middle East were top magnesium producers,. Now, China is the new bulk supplier.

A 2015 report by Lucintel reported that in the automotive industry,  interior, powertrain, chassis, and exterior are the major application area of magnesium alloys material in a vehicle.

For more details see:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is using a magnesium skeleton covered by a thin steel shell in its 2017 Pacifica minivan liftgate. The part now weighs 22 pounds less. The part is made by die casting.  It also allowed the auto maker to create pockets within the door itself for the installation of speakers and taillamps. The move eliminated the need for about a half-dozen brackets, reducing costs.  - Some components made with magnesium details are available.

23 March 2014

Magnesium is now the center of attention for the United States Automotive Materials Partnership (USAMP). This USCAR initiative investigates ways to develop a family car that can attain 2.9 L/100 km (80 mpg). The $10 million project involves the U. S. government, automakers, suppliers, universities, and national laboratories.

Racing cars used magnesium parts in the 1920's.  Extensively use occurred  in commercial vehicles in 1936 when the Volkswagen Beetle was introduced. The car contained around 20kg of magnesium in the powertrain and during its peak production in 1971, consumption of magnesium reached 42,000 tonnes per annum.

Magnesium in Automotive

But now magnesium is being as a strategic lightweight material in the automotive industry and it  is the driving force behind the growth of use of magnesium in industry. Technological advances in magnesium alloys made in the mid 1980's and the continuous drive to minimise weight and fuel consumption of cars, today, there is more use of magnesium in  the automotive industry.

Further growth is forecast over the next 10 years. In Europe, the increase in using magnesium as a structural lightweight material is being led by the Volkswagen Group of companies, with the material also being used by other leading manufacturers including DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes Benz), BMW, Ford and Jaguar. Presently, around 14 kgs of magnesium are used in the VW Passat, Audi A4 & A6. All those vehicles use magnesium transmission casings cast in AZ91D, offering a 20%-25% weight saving over aluminium. Other applications include instrument panels, intake manifolds, cylinder head covers, inner boot lid sections and steering components which utilise the more ductile AM50A & AM60B alloys. In North America, The GM full sized Savana & Express vans use up to 26kg of magnesium alloy.

The motorsport industry worldwide has recognised the advantages to be gained from using the sand cast high performance alloys originally developed for the aerospace industry and is using them now.. Their lightweight and high strength to weight ratio provide many teams with a competitive advantage. Elektron®21 is becoming more widely used in motorsport applications, for example replacing Elektron®RZ5  (ZE41) gearboxes.  Elektron®WE43 and Elektron®WE54 alloys in cast and wrought form are being used increasingly in motor racing engines, often due to the very high operating stresses and temperatures.

More information on electron range of magnesium alloys and uses

Interesting paper of 2004
Automotive Applications of Magnesium and Its Alloys
The paper predicted that from the present 25 Kg per vehicle, the use can go even up to 180 kg per vehicle assuming the vehicle weight at 1200 Kgs.

Magnesium - Chemistry from IIT JEE Blog

Updated on 23 April 2017, 23 March 2014

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