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Lightweight Construction

Austrians develop fire-resistant magnesium

Unlike conventional magnesium, the new alloys are flame retardant. In addition, they should self-extinguish in the event of a fire.

22 Oct. 2018
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Austrians develop fire-resistant magnesium (Photo:AIT/LKR)

Magnesium is an interesting material for lightweight construction in the automotive industry, for instance, since it is low in weight and abundantly available. However, the metal is prone to oxidation, which means that it is highly flammable, and therefore difficult to process. Researchers at research institute Leichtmetallkompetenzzentrum Ranshofen (LKR), near Braunau in Austria, have now developed new magnesium alloys that are flame retardant and that self-extinguish in the event of a fire. The development process involved the selective addition of elements that stabilize the magnesium’s oxidation behavior. Stefan Gneiger, one of the scientists working on the project, said that the team added calcium, which is cost-efficient and readily available, and that LKR also experimented with the addition of rare earth elements and other metals. The new alloys were presented at the trade show ALUMINIUM 2018 in Dusseldorf in October.

LKR is a subsidiary of the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) , Austria’s largest non-university research institute. The shareholders are the Republic of Austria, represented by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation, and Technology, and the Federation of Austrian Industries.