Magnesium readies for take off

Researchers at Birmingham City University are hoping to transform the fortunes of magnesium this year, by showcasing it as a viable alternative for luxury car makers and the aerospace industry.

It comes as the institution has signed an exclusive partnership with the world’s largest producer of magnesium components, Meridian.

The strategic alliance will see the two organisations work together in the education, research and development of magnesium use, which will place fuel efficiency through weight savings and sustainability at its core.

Magnesium is the lightest of all structural materials, the eighth most abundant chemical element in the earth’s crust and is 100% recyclable.

Originating in Strathroy, Canada, Meridian opened its UK facility in July 2003. Today, its Nottinghamshire plant produces around 5,000 net metric tons of die-cast products annually, serving automotive clients such as Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Ford, Honda and Volvo.

However, being able to offer bespoke magnesium components for low-volume manufacturers, such as Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce, can prove costly using current manufacturing methods, as the costs of tooling and set up become more significant components of a project’s budget.

As part of the new partnership with Meridian, academics from Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment and personnel from the company will be investigating new ways to offer more sustainable goods for low-volume manufacturers, whilst making production financially viable for Meridian and its potential clients.

Randy Chalmers, plant manager, Meridian Lightweight Technologies UK (MLTUK) said, ‘The strategic partnership we have signed with Birmingham City University is very much a first for us, but is one which we hope will pave the way for future expansion and sustenance with the institution as we seek to work together on our shared strengths in fuel efficiency and sustainability.’

In order for this to come to fruition, the University has established the Magnesium Innovation Group. From this group, 10 academics have been partnered with Meridian employees that best represent their area of expertise, and they will be actively engaging with their partner in the industry for the first half of 2017.

Research findings will be published ahead of a major international magnesium conference, which will be held at Birmingham City University in July this year.