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Direct reduction of magnesium oxide to magnesium using thermal plasma technology

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2015, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 30-37

Ramachandran, M.; Reddy, R.G.


A direct route for the reduction of magnesium oxide to magnesium using thermal plasma processing, with methane as the reducing gas, has been systematically evaluated. A feasibility study of the reduction reaction has been performed on the MgO-CH4 system at different methane concentrations and temperatures. The effects of changes in the key process parameters, such as the oxide-to-methane ratio and plasma power, on the yield of magnesium have been systematically evaluated. A maximum yield of about 61 mol% Mg was obtained using power of 20.0 kW and a molar ratio of MgO:CH4=1:1. Phase, morphological, elemental and binding energy analyses were performed on the product powders to understand the reduction reaction. Surface oxidation was observed in smaller magnesium particles in all the experiments, while the in-situ sintering of magnesium rods was observed at a molar ratio of MgO:CH4=1:1.5. Magnesium carbide (Mg2C3) was observed in the product, and its mechanism of formation is proposed using phase equilibrium data and a predominance diagram.