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Arsenic Found to Reduce Corrosion in Mg

Posted on: 08/19/2013
Scientists at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, have found a way to dramatically reduce the corrosion rate of magnesium.

Weighing in at two thirds less than aluminium, magnesium is the lightest structural metal. It has many potential industrial applications, but uptake is severely restricted by its poor resistance to corrosion.

The Monash research team, led by Nick Birbilis, Associate Professor and TMS member, has created a magnesium alloy with significantly reduced corrosion rates by adding a cathodic poison—arsenic. They found that the addition of very low levels of arsenic to magnesium retards the corrosion reaction by effectively "poisoning" the reaction before it completes.

Birbilis said the discovery would contribute to the birth of more stainless magnesium products by exploiting cathodic poisons. "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,” he said.

“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 trialled as a functional additive to existing commercial alloys,” Birbilis continued. “Our breakthrough will help develop the next generation of magnesium products, which must be more stainless.”

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