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TECH SPACE
Energy-efficient green route to magnesium production
by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) May 22, 2017


Left) Actual pellet of dolomite and ferrosilicon. White portion is dolomite rich, and the black portion is ferrosilicon rich. Ferrosilicon is concentrated in the center portion. (Right) Five stacked to form the microwave wavelength (antenna structure). Credit Tokyo Institute of Technology

Oxide (dolomite: MgO, CaO), which is a raw material for magnesium metal, does not absorb microwave energy well and does not generate heat. This time, when electrically conductivity ferrosilicon (FeSi) used as a reducing agent was mixed with the raw dolomite material and made into an antenna* structure, it became easier to absorb the microwave energy and reduce the temperature.

Internal heating and contact point heating, which are microwave characteristics, were observed, and the average reaction temperature for this smelting was lowered from the conventional 1,200 - 1,400C to 1,000C.

This research result was published in the April 12th issue of "Scientific Reports," the online edition of the sister magazine of the UK scientific journal "Nature".

Currently, the smelting of magnesium metal is mainly performed using the Pidgeon method (thermal reduction method) where the material temperature is raised using a large amount of coal as the heat source.

About 80% of magnesium metal is produced in China. A large amount of coal is consumed for smelting, resulting in the generation of the air pollutant PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) and the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which are major problems.

The Pidgeon method is a technique for heating dolomite ore and silicon iron to high temperatures and then cooling the evaporated magnesium to obtain magnesium metal.

2MgO (s) + 2CaO (s) + (Fe)Si (s) ? 2Mg (g) + Ca2SiO4 (s)+ Fe (s)
* s: Solid, g: Gas
Dolomite mineral: MgO, CaO; Ferrosilicon: FeSi
Heat source: Coal

Research Achievements
Normally, dolomite is a poor absorber of microwave energy and does not generate heat. However, by using ferrosilicon as the reducing agent, devising the shape of the raw material pellet obtained by mixing dolomite and ferrosilicon and forming it as an antenna so that it has a resonance structure of 2.45 GHz (same as the frequency for microwave ovens), it was possible to confine the microwave energy to the pellet.

In a small-scale experimental reactor, 1g of magnesium metal was smelted successfully. Also, in order to accurately estimate the energy, a demonstration furnace about 5 times larger than the experimental furnace was produced and experiments were conducted, resulting in the successful smelting of about 7g of magnesium metal. This can reduce energy by 68.6% compared with the conventional method.

Future Developments
This success in saving energy for smelting magnesium metal has led to the possibility of this technique being developed and applied to the high temperature reduction process of oxides.

In the future, through further development of this research, it will be applied to the smelting of other metal materials to save energy with steel, metals, materials, and chemistry, which have not advanced, and help reduce carbon dioxide, which is one of the causes of global warming.

Research paper

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The brighter side of twisted polymers
Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (SPX) May 24, 2017
A strategy to produce highly fluorescent nanoparticles through careful molecular design of conjugated polymers has been developed by KAUST researchers. Such tiny polymer-based particles could offer alternatives to conventional organic dyes and inorganic semiconductor quantum dots as fluorescent tags for medical imaging. Conjugated polymer-derived nanoparticles, called Pdots, are expected t ... read more

Related Links
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Space Technology News - Applications and Research


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