Most magnesium mavens will understand the metal’s advantages as a light, structural material that is often used as a component of aluminum alloys.
What they may not know is that one of magnesium’s disadvantages is its poor resistance to corrosion. Recently, a group of researchers tried to identify ways to restrict magnesium corrosion in order to create functional alloys, according to an article in Laboratory Equipment.
Led by a professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, the researchers created a magnesium alloy by using arsenic — a cathodic “poison” — to reduce corrosion rates and make the material more “stainless.”
“This is a very important and timely finding. In an era of light-weighting for energy and emissions reductions, there is a great demand for magnesium alloys in everything from portable electronics to air and land transportation,” Laboratory Equipment quoted Associate Professor Nick Birbilis as saying. “Magnesium products are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of industry, but presently are hindered by high corrosion rates. The arsenic effect we discovered is now being trialed as a functional additive to existing commercial alloys. Our breakthrough will help develop the next generation of magnesium products, which must be more stainless.”
One beneficiary could be the airline industry, which uses lightweight metals in aircraft that are resistant to rust and can save energy. Magnesium is considered to be two-thirds lighter than aluminum.