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Key People:Sir Humphry DavyJohann Wolfgang Döbereiner...(Show more)Related Topics:chemical elementalkaline-earth metalmagnesium processingmagnesium deficiencymagnesite...(Show more)

magnesium (Mg), chemical element, one of the alkaline-earth steels of team 2 (IIa) the the regular table, and the lightest structural metal. The compounds are widely provided in construction and medicine, and also magnesium is one of the facets essential to all cellular life.

Element Propertiesatomic numberatomic weightmelting pointboiling pointspecific gravityoxidation stateelectron configuration
650 °C (1,202 °F)
1,090 °C (1,994 °F)
1.74 in ~ 20° C (68 °F)

Occurrence, properties, and uses

Known initially through compounds such as Epsom salts (the sulfate), magnesia or magnesia alba (the oxide), and magnesite (the carbonate), the silvery white element itself does not occur totally free in nature. It was very first isolated in 1808 by sir Humphry Davy, who evaporated the mercury from a magnesium amalgam make by electrolyzing a mixture of moist magnesia and also mercuric oxide. The name magnesium originates from Magnesia, a district of Thessaly (Greece) wherein the mineral magnesia alba was very first found.


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Magnesium is the eighth many abundant facet in earth’s crust (about 2.5 percent) and is, after aluminum and iron, the third most numerous structural metal. That cosmic abundance is approximated as 9.1 × 105 atom (on a range where the variety of silicon = 106 atoms). The occurs together carbonates—magnesite, MgCO3, and also dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2—and in many common silicates, consisting of talc, olivine, and most kinds of asbestos. It additionally is found as hydroxide (brucite), chloride (carnallite, KMgCl3∙6H2O), and sulfate (kieserite). The is dispersed in minerals such as serpentine, chrysolite, and meerschaum. Seawater contains around 0.13 percent magnesium, largely as the liquified chloride, i beg your pardon imparts that is characteristic bitter taste.

Magnesium is commercially created by electrolysis the molten magnesium chloride (MgCl2), processed mainly from seawater and by the straight reduction the its compound with perfect reducing agents—e.g., native the reaction the magnesium oxide or calcined dolomite through ferrosilicon (the Pidgeon process). (See magnesium processing.)

At one time, magnesium was supplied for photographic flash ribbon and also powder, due to the fact that in finely divided form it burns in air v an intense white light; the still finds applications in explosive and also pyrotechnic devices. Because of its low density (only two-thirds that of aluminum), the has discovered extensive use in the aerospace industry. However, due to the fact that the pure metal has low structure strength, magnesium is largely used in the kind of alloys—principally through 10 percent or less of aluminum, zinc, and manganese—to enhance its hardness, tensile strength, and capability to be cast, welded, and also machined. Casting, rolling, extruding, and forging methods are every employed through the alloys, and further fabrication that the resulting sheet, plate, or extrusion is lugged out by common forming, joining, and also machining operations. Magnesium is the easiest structural steel to device and has frequently been offered when a huge number the machining operations space required. Magnesium alloys have actually a number of applications: they are used for components of aircraft, spacecraft, machinery, automobiles, portable tools, and household appliances.

The thermal and electrical conductivity that magnesium and its melting point are very comparable to those that aluminum. Whereas aluminum is struck by alkalies however is resistant to most acids, magnesium is resistant to most alkalies but is readily attacked by many acids come liberate hydrogen (chromic and hydrofluoric acids are crucial exceptions). At normal temperatures the is secure in air and water because of the formation of a slim protective skin that oxide, however it is attacked by steam. Magnesium is a an effective reducing agent and is offered to create other steels from their compounds (e.g., titanium, zirconium, and hafnium). That reacts straight with numerous elements.

Magnesium occurs in nature as a mixture of 3 isotopes: magnesium-24 (79.0 percent), magnesium-26 (11.0 percent), and also magnesium-25 (10.0 percent). Nineteen radiation isotopes have actually been prepared; magnesium-28 has the longest half-life, in ~ 20.9 hours, and also is a beta emitter. Back magnesium-26 is no radioactive, that is the daughter nuclear species of aluminum-26, which has actually a half-life of 7.2 × 105 years. Elevated level of magnesium-26 have actually been uncovered in some meteorites, and also the ratio of magnesium-26 to magnesium-24 has been supplied in determining their age.

The height producers the magnesium by the 2nd decade the the 21st century contained China, Russia, Turkey, and also Austria.

Principal compounds

In compounds, magnesium virtually constantly exhibits a +2 oxidation state due to the fact that of the ns or share of its two 3s electrons. Over there are, however, a small variety of coordination compounds recognized with magnesium-magnesium bonds, LMg―MgL, in i m sorry the magnesium centres have a officially +1 oxidation state. Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, wake up in nature together the mineral magnesite and also is an important source of elemental magnesium. It can be produced artificially by the activity of carbon dioxide top top a selection of magnesium compounds. The odourless white powder has numerous industrial uses—e.g., together a warm insulator for boilers and also pipes and also as one additive in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubbers, inks, and glass. Together magnesium carbonate is both hygroscopic and insoluble in water, it to be the initial additive provided to make table salt free-flowing also in high-humidity conditions.


Magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH)2, is a white powder produced in big quantities indigenous seawater through the enhancement of milk that lime (calcium hydroxide). That is the primary raw material in the production of magnesium metal and also has been provided as a fire-retardant additive. In water it creates a suspension known as milk that magnesia, which has long been provided as an antacid and a laxative.

The action of hydrochloric mountain on magnesium hydroxide produce magnesium chloride, MgCl2, a colourless, deliquescent (water-absorbing) substance employed in magnesium steel production, in the to produce of a cement for heavy-duty flooring, and also as one additive in textile manufacture. That is additionally used come coagulate soy milk in the production of tofu.

Roasting one of two people magnesium lead carbonate or magnesium hydroxide produce the oxygen link magnesium oxide, commonly called magnesia, MgO. That is a white solid provided in the to produce of high-temperature refractory bricks, electrical and also thermal insulators, cements, fertilizer, rubber, and plastics. The is likewise used medically together a laxative and also antacid.

Magnesium sulfate, MgSO4, is a colourless crystalline substance created by the reaction of magnesium hydroxide through sulfur dioxide and also air. A hydrate type of magnesium sulfate referred to as kieserite, MgSO4∙H2O, occurs as a mineral deposit. Synthetically ready magnesium sulfate is marketed as Epsom salt, MgSO4∙7H2O. In industry, magnesium sulfate is used in the to produce of cements and fertilizers and in tanning and also dyeing; in medication it serves together a purgative. Due to the fact that of its capability to absorb water readily, the anhydrous type is offered as a desiccant (drying agent).

Among the organometallic link of magnesium room the essential Grignard reagents, written of one organic team (e.g., alkyls and aryls), a halogen atom other than fluorine, and also magnesium. This are supplied in the manufacturing of numerous other type of organic and also organometallic compounds.

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Magnesium is necessary to every living cells, as the Mg2+ ion is associated with the critically important organic polyphosphate compound DNA, RNA, and also adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Plenty of enzymes count on magnesium for their functioning. About one-sixth as plentiful as potassium in human body cells, magnesium is compelled as a catalyst for enzyme reaction in carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium additionally is critical constituent of the eco-friendly pigment chlorophyll, found in practically all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. The photosynthetic role of plants depends upon the action of chlorophyll pigments, which contain magnesium at the centre of a complex, nitrogen-containing ring device (porphyrin). This magnesium compounds permit light energy to drive the conversion of carbon dioxide and water come carbohydrates and also oxygen and also thus straight or indirectly provide the key to almost all life processes.