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Atomic number Density, Atomic weight Melting point Boiling point

GENERAL Magnesium is essentially insoluble in solid steel and is not used as an alloying constituent per se. However, like calcium, magnesium is very useful as a desulfurizer, and large quantities have been consumed in steelmaking for this purpose. (For a further discussion of this topic, see Sulfur.) Magnesium is a powerful inoculant in cast iron. When added in concentrations exceeding 0.04%, it produces a spheroidal form of graphite that improves the iron's strength and ductility. Magnesium is an abundant metal with a price roughly comparable to that of aluminum, albeit usually higher. The US is a leading world supplier. AVAILABLE FORMS Desulfurization. There are many, often proprietary, iron desulfurizers in which magnesium is the active ingredient. NiMg (foundry), MgFeSi, and Mg-Lime are examples. Magnesium is highly reactive and volatilizes explosively at hot metal temperatures. These factors can combine to produce dangerous, if spectacular, pyrotechnics unless the magnesium can be released from the addition agent in a controlled manner. An American steel company has developed, and licenses, a process using lime and magnesium powders. Again, the function of the lime is primarily to control the violence of the magnesium addition, but it also increases the basicity of the resulting slag, a condition that further insures low residual sulfur levels in the hot metal. Another supplier offers a preblended mixture of powdered magnesium and lime. Its magnesium content (20%) is double that used in the foregoing process. Magnesium-

12 20 C (68 F) 1.74 g/cm3 24.32 650 C (1202 F) 1105 C (2021 F)

dolomitic lime briquettes containing 60% Mg are also in use. It has been found that magnesium metal itself can be utilized for hot metal desulfurization if the metal is finely divided (powdered or granulated) and the particles appropriately coated to control release rate. Some coatings should remain shrouded in proprietary secrecy, but sodium chloride and silicones are known to have been used. Inoculation. Magnesium is normally added to cast irons in the form of alloys for the same safety considerations given above. However, since the addition is typically made just before casting, the diluents must be compatible with the compositional and property requirements of the final product. Ferrosilicon forms the basis of a number of magnesium cast iron inoculants. Known as magnesium-ferrosilicon, the products are available in several grades containing incremental concentrations of Mg between 5 and 10%. Cerium may also be present, since it insures complete nodularization even in the presence of such detrimental "poisons" as antimony, bismuth, lead and titanium. Calcium-silicon-magnesium (25-30% Ca, 50-55% Si, 10-15% Mg) is another effective inoculant; its high calcium content aids in deoxidation and desulfurization as well. Alternatively, magnesium may be added in the form of a nickel- or silicon-based alloy. The nickel-based alloys contain 15% Mg, and are available in grades with or without 30% Si. Silicon-based alloys contain approximately 18% Mg, 65% Si, 2% Ca and 0.6% Ce. Both nickel-and silicon-based materials are also sold in 30% Mg grades. Note that Mg can also enter the bath via aluminum used for deoxidation and possibly from reduction of MgO from the slag or refractory. ADDITION PRACTICE Desulfurizing agents are added either by plunging, pneumatic injection or mechanical stirring. Magnesium impregnated coke and briquetted products are normally plunged into hot metal under a refractory or graphite bell. Powders and granules are injected through a lance using argon or nitrogen as a carrier gas. Injection is also used to desulfurize steel although it is more common practice (and more cost effective) to desulfurize the hot metal and reserve (steel) ladle treatments for inclusion shape control. Cast iron inoculation additions are made to the casting ladle. Allowance must be made for the sulfur content of the iron and fading of magnesium effectiveness before solidification. Since magnesium is a strong desulfurizer, it will react with sulfur present in the liquid iron to form MgS. This floats out of the metal, removing some magnesium

from the field of action. Extra magnesium must be added to compensate for this effect. Magnesium also has a very high vapor pressure at liquid iron temperatures (boils at 1105 C, 2021 F), and there can be some loss due to evaporation from the metal surface. This loss, or fade, increases with increasing temperature, magnesium concentration and ladle surface/volume ratio. APPLICATIONS Magnesium desulfurized steels (and other low sulfur grades) are used in applications where ductility, formability and directional uniformity are especially important. Examples include linepipe and other oil country goods, high quality forging grades and heavy plates intended for welded construction. Nodular, or spheroidal graphite, irons are essentially gray irons in which the graphite morphology has been altered from flake to globular form. Lacking the semicontinuous network or sharp internal notches inherent to ordinary gray irons, nodular irons have a much higher ductility, up to 25% elongation in some cases. In addition, magnesium's pearlite-stabilizing property leads to higher strength. Note that magnesium aluminate spinels contribute to caster nozzle (well and gate areas) clogging, and these spinels must be avoided or minimized since they are more difficult to liquify than pure aluminates (with using calcium). Lowering slag basicity will lower the available Mg in steels. Top of Page Copyright 2002. Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corporation. All rights reserved.