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Justin Higgins


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  Subject: Help correcting magnesium flammability misunderstanding? 


Hi,

I've ended up getting into a debate with someone who is claiming that magnesium is inherently dangerous - he is claiming that people should be careful about a laptop made with a magnesium chassis because it could ignite if it gets too hot.

I told him this was incorrect, and he replied with a story about his science teacher burning a magnesium ribbon - I tried to explain that magnesium's flammability in this form was different from what is used in a laptop, for example, but I couldn't get it across.

He also said his science teacher told him about a battleship during a war with a magnesium hull that was torpedoed and caused a brilliant bright explosion because of the magnesium, as proof of his contention.

I've run out of ideas on how to explain this; can anyone help me to explain the difference, and that magnesium is obviously safe in something like a laptop?

-Zadillo
 11-Jan-2008 05:38   Quote 
Ilya Ostrovsky


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Dear Justin,

Your "someone" has completely wrong opinion about flammability of magnesium.
Magnesium is safe not only in laptops, but also in an aircraft. The flammability of magnesium was studied and tested in FP6 AEROMAG. This information is available for public and was presented on several conferences, as well as on recent FAA meeting.
Furthermore, flammability resistance of magnesium can be improved by application of special alloys and/or special protective coatings.

In case of laptop, where simple AZ91 without special coating is used, the ignition may happen at temperature about 550-560C.
I have a lot of doubts that somebody works with laptop in so high temperature.

Regarding battleship, it is probably a kind of science fiction. Magnesium was used during WWII in military aircrafts as well as later in military aviation.
I do not have any information about magnesium battleships. Even today, magnesium is not used in battleships hull. The main reason is corrosion.
Any way, every battleship or military aircraft has enough dangerous explosives. Magnesium really is not issue in this case.
 11-Jan-2008 12:18   Quote 
Justin Higgins


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Thank you very much. I think I've finally gotten through to him (he brought up an example of someone trying to burn an old NeXTCube, but I pointed out to him that the effort that the guy had to go through to get it to ignite was extraordinary, and required very intense heat).

-Justin
 11-Jan-2008 18:02   Quote 
Pradeep Datar


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I am surprised to note that a Science Teacher is equating Lap-Top with Magnesium Ribbon in the School. On the onset, It should be appreciated that the Ribbon is forecefully burnt i.e. an extra energy is being given to it to burn. whereas with laptop no one is going to burn it forcefully.
More importantly, there is a flash point for Magnesium which will be in no case exceeded so long as the laptop is on your lap. Magnesium will not catch fire unless the Flashpoint is exceeded. What tro say, Aircraft landing wheels are also made of Magnesium. How many times did the Teacher's Aircraft go into flames while landing?
I advocate strongly for wide usage of Magnesium.Remember that it is a wonderful metal.Take advantages of it's Properties & go ahead using it in your life
 15-Jan-2008 06:56   Quote 
harry robinson


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This is a really really late post but something interesting about magnesium. Take a copper end cap, say a 1.5 inch cap. cut a 3/4\" piece of wood,put in the bottom of the cap. Glue a 2 inch, .5 inch diameter magnesium rod to the wood. then you take equal parts of Alum, Borax, Epsom salts, and potassium chloride know as dietary salt mixed up very well, heat it until it becomes liquid. Do it gently, its not dangerous but you do not want any of the chemicals damaged such that they appear white on the bottom of the container while you are cooking the mixture. When it becomes the consistency of why honey and can be poured easily, poor it in the can right up to the top of the copper. This will make a battery that will put out about 1.2 to 1.4 volts. I have a string of 9, in series, running 7 leds wired in parallel, for 24/7. Its been running for a month now and no voltage drop to this point. strange thing, it seems to be self regulating somehow. voltage drops to 2.9 volts or so and runs at 6 ma. If I add another LED to it the voltage, and the current stay the same, and finally, leds require no current limiting resister and run at full brightness. A regular led will run on two cells, high intensity leds require 3 or 4 minimum.
 25-Jun-2015 20:49   Quote 
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