A 300kW d.c. transferred arc furnace, forming part of a pilot plant facility for a novel magnesium production process, has been successfully commissioned. The process is characterised by flexible slag chemistry which facilities the incorporation of a range of unconventional raw materials in the process mass balance. The MAGRAM process is a version of the technology which destroys asbestos waste materials, whilst simultaneously recovering metallic magnesium.
Extensive computer modelling of both the thermodynamics and economics of the process has been undertaken. The results suggest that magnesium purity will be higher than that obtained in the traditional Magnetherm process. When utilising asbestos wastes the lowest slag/Mg ratios and raw materials costs are obtained from relatively high alumina content slags. Slag/Mg ratios and raw materials costs are similar, and in some cases lower, than those of the Magnetherm process. The technology will therefore be competitive with traditional magnesium production facilities. This is an important contrast with technologies for disposal of asbestos wastes which rely on simple vitrification and consequently provide less financial incentive for the treatment of these hazardous materials.
The MAGRAM process has the potential to make the treatment of asbestos and similar wastes profitable even in the absence of any economic benefit accruing from the treatment of the waste. if operators of the technology were to charge a fee based upon existing landfill costs the profit margins would be increased further.
The primary objective is the development of a process for the recovery of magnesium metal from asbestos ant its related waste materials. The process therefore combines production of a high value metal and destruction of an environmentally hazardous waste material.
Central to the project is a recently demonstrated improvement of existing pyrometallurgical magnesium production technologies. Independent assessments of the impact of these improvements, suggest that the new technology could lower magnesium production costs by at least 20%.
Market analysis indicate that the market for Mg metal will grow by 5% per annum through the 1990's. Much of this growth will be related to the automotive industries.
By providing a secure, cost effective European source of magnesium, the project could circumvent potential disadvantages for the European automotive industries relative to their U.S. and Far East competitors.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
1880 Kapell Op Den Bos
SN7 9AJ Faringdon
M1 7HS Manchester