Magnesium (Mg) as the lightest structural metal has a broad range of applications, mainly in the automotive industry. Considering the transportation sector corresponds to the largest share (29% in 2019) of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), one of the ways to reduce this share consists in introducing lightweight vehicles in order to diminish fuel consumption, and in consequence, GHG emissions. Therefore, the demand for magnesium has been rapidly increasing in the automotive industry. However, we need to consider energy consumption and emissions from magnesium primary production are very high. In this line, production of primary magnesium in China, which supplies around 90% of global magnesium, slowed earlier in the year 2021 on the back of a fuel shortage and new policies to limit energy supply in order to meet environmental goals.
Looking for solutions to resolve the dependency on importing magnesium from main suppliers such as China and environmental concerns of its primary production, the development of circularity of magnesium has been attracted more attention recently. Therefore, enhancing magnesium recycling would be vital for ensuring its sustainable use. We assessed the life cycle of magnesium extracted from end-of-life products in the automotive industry. We quantified the potential environmental benefits and examine aspects related to the circularity of magnesium to be used in the automotive industry. Energy consumption, water use and related emissions are assessed in processes of functional and non-functional recycling as well as casting and molding.
Post Doctoral Researcher
Obtained results show that the implementation of circular economy strategies may help in increasing the supply of magnesium from the automotive industry up to 0.70 million tonnes (mt) in 2050. As shown by the analysis, 43% of total energy consumption and water use at the global Mg recycling stage in 2050 corresponds to non-functional casting and molding in the automotive industry, followed by non-functional recycling (11%), functional casting and molding (7%) and functional recycling (2%). Also, it is estimated that the existing technologies in functional and non-functional Mg recycling in the automotive industry contribute to the global warming with an emission of 5.62 and 29.66 mt of CO2 eq. in 2050, respectively.
This research has been done by the support of Viipuri Management Research Lab of LUT University provided access to AnyLogic (University 8.5.0) software for simulation modelling.