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Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal that has the symbol Mg in the periodic table of elements. Magnesium is a fairly strong, silvery-white, light-weight metal (one third lighter than aluminum) that slightly tarnishes when exposed to air. In a powder, this metal heats and ignites when exposed to moisture and burns with a white flame. It is difficult to ignite in bulk, though it is easy to light if it is shaved into thin strips. Once ignited, it is difficult to extinguish.
Magnesium is a brilliant white metal, which is relatively soft. It is one of the more abundant elements, there being 23000 ppm in the earth’s crust. As a powder, magnesium is extremely reactive, but as a solid it oxidises slowly in air and reacts slowly in water. It does not occur naturally, but is found in combination with other elements in minerals such as magnesite (MgCO3, primarily) and dolomite (the double carbonate of magnesium and calcium). As with other elements in groups 1 and 2 of the periodic table, it can be produced by electrolysis of the molten halide.
Magnesium is very chemically active, it takes the place of hydrogen in boiling water and a great number of metals can be produced by thermic reduction of its salts and oxidized forms with magnesium. It joins together with most non-metals and almost every acid. Magnesium reacts only slightly or not at all with most of the alkalis and many organic substances, like hydrocarbons, aldehides, alcohols, phenols, amines, esters and most of the oils. Used as a catalyst, magnesium promotes organic reactions of condensation, reduction, addition and dehalogenation. It was used for a long time for synthesizing special and complex organic components by the well-known Grignard reaction. The main ingredients of the alloys are: aluminum, manganese, zircon, zinc, rare-earth metals and thorium.
Magnesium compounds are used as refractory material in furnace linings for producing metals (iron and steel, nonferrous metals), glass, and cement.
With a density of only two thirds of the aluminum’s, it has countless applications in cases where weight reducing is important, i.e. in aeroplane and missile construction. It also has many useful chemical and metallurgic properties, which make it appropriate for many other non-structural applications.
Magnesium components are widely used in industry and agriculture.
Other uses include: removal of sulphur form iron and steel, photoengraved plates in the printing industry; reducing agent for the production of pure and other metals from their salts; flashlight photography, flares, and pyrotechnics.
Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element and constitutes about 2% af the Earth’s crust by weight, and it is the third most plentiful element dissolved in seawater. It’s very abundant in nature, and it’s found in important quantities in many rocky minerals, like dolomite, magnetite, olivine and serpentine. It’s also found in seawater, underground brines and salty layers. It’s the third most abundant structural metal in the earth’s crust, only exceeded by aluminum and iron.