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MFE's Technology

MFE has chosen the Aluminothermic ("Al-thermic") Process for its future Magnesium production for a variety of reasons:

  • Most efficient process available - production of primary Magnesium plus three valuable by-products which improves significantly the overall economics of Magnesium production

  • Developed over the last decade and already in use in China

  • Based on conventional proven technology but much improved

  • Best conversion of MFE's high quality Dolomite into high quality Magnesium plus three valuable by-products

  • Process can be powered mainly with electricity - green energy in the case of MFE

  • Zero waste

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Improvement of conventional technology...

The Al-thermic Process is a further development of the conventional and well established Pidgeon Process developed by Dr. Lloyd Montgomery Pidgeon in the 1940s as well as the Magnetherm Process used by Alcoa for about 50 years until the beginning of this century. The Pidgeon Process which extracts Magnesium from Dolomite in a vacuum at high temperature with Ferrosilicon ("FeSi") as a reducing agent has been the "gold standard" of Magnesium production for over half a century, particularly in China. However, the process has been attracting increasing criticism for its high energy use - also in connection with the required Ferrosilicon production - the resulting slag as a waste product and the emission of substantial amounts of CO2, especially where coal generated electricity is used to power the process (which is still the case for the large majority of Chinese Magnesium production facilities).

...leading to substantial advantages

Increasing global awareness of climate change has triggered a re-evaluation of many industrial production processes. China, which has been at the forefront of Magnesium production and metallurgical technology, also re-evaluated its industrial production in light of its new CO2 targets and pushed the development of its Magnesium production technology. The Al-thermic Process is based on conventional proven technology but involves three important changes:

  1. Ca-Mg separation, post calcination of the Dolomite, allows for the production of PCC (CaCO3) and Dry Ice

  2. Use of Al or Al-scrap as reductant (instead of Ferrosilicon) allows for the production of Al-Mg-Spinel and a zero wast process

  3. A lower operating temperature of 1150°C allows for a less energy intensive process

The resulting Al-thermic Process is generating three valuable by-products in addition to Magnesium and zero waste. The multi-product output leads to a diversified revenue base, greater profitability and a greater ability for the producer to withstand adverse price developments in a volatile Magnesium market.

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