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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, among the alkaline-earth metals of team 2 (IIa) the the routine table, and also the lightest structural metal. The compounds are widely used in construction and medicine, and magnesium is just one of the facets essential to every cellular life.

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

Occurrence, properties, and also uses

Known originally through compound such as Epsom salt (the sulfate), magnesia or magnesia alba (the oxide), and also magnesite (the carbonate), the silvery white facet itself does no occur totally free in nature. That was an initial isolated in 1808 by teacher Humphry Davy, who evaporated the mercury indigenous a magnesium amalgam do by electrolyzing a mixture that moist magnesia and mercuric oxide. The surname magnesium comes from Magnesia, a ar of Thessaly (Greece) wherein the mineral magnesia alba was an initial found.


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Magnesium is the eighth many abundant element in earth crust (about 2.5 percent) and is, after aluminum and also iron, the third most abundant structural metal. That is cosmic variety is approximated as 9.1 × 105 atoms (on a range where the variety of silicon = 106 atoms). It occurs together carbonates—magnesite, MgCO3, and also dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2—and in many usual silicates, including talc, olivine, and also most type of asbestos. It likewise is found as hydroxide (brucite), chloride (carnallite, KMgCl3∙6H2O), and sulfate (kieserite). That is dispersed in minerals such together serpentine, chrysolite, and meerschaum. Seawater contains about 0.13 percent magnesium, mostly as the dissolved chloride, which imparts that is characteristic bitter taste.

Magnesium is commercially developed by electrolysis that molten magnesium chloride (MgCl2), processed largely from seawater and also by the direct reduction the its link with perfect reducing agents—e.g., indigenous the reaction the magnesium oxide or calcined dolomite with ferrosilicon (the Pidgeon process). (See magnesium processing.)

At one time, magnesium was provided for photographic speed ribbon and also powder, since in finely divided form it burns in air v an extreme white light; that still finds application in explosive and also pyrotechnic devices. Since of its low density (only two-thirds the of aluminum), the has found extensive use in the aerospace industry. However, since the pure metal has actually low structure strength, magnesium is mainly used in the form of alloys—principally v 10 percent or much less of aluminum, zinc, and also manganese—to enhance its hardness, tensile strength, and ability to it is in cast, welded, and machined. Casting, rolling, extruding, and forging techniques are every employed v the alloys, and also further fabrication the the result sheet, plate, or extrusion is lugged out by common forming, joining, and machining operations. Magnesium is the simplest structural steel to machine and has regularly been supplied when a large number the machining operations room required. Magnesium alloys have actually a number of applications: lock are used for components of aircraft, spacecraft, machinery, automobiles, portable tools, and household appliances.

The thermal and also electrical conductivity the magnesium and also its melting point are very comparable to those that aluminum. Whereas aluminum is attacked by alkalies but is resistant to many acids, magnesium is resistant to many alkalies yet is readily struck by many acids to liberate hydrogen (chromic and hydrofluoric mountain are important exceptions). At typical temperatures that is steady in air and also water because of the formation of a thin protective skin the oxide, but it is assaulted by steam. Magnesium is a an effective reducing agent and also is supplied to develop other steels from your compounds (e.g., titanium, zirconium, and also hafnium). It reacts straight with numerous elements.

Magnesium wake up in nature together 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 been prepared; magnesium-28 has actually the longest half-life, at 20.9 hours, and also is a beta emitter. Back magnesium-26 is not radioactive, the is the daughter nuclide of aluminum-26, which has actually a half-life that 7.2 × 105 years. Elevated levels of magnesium-26 have been found in part meteorites, and the proportion of magnesium-26 come magnesium-24 has actually been used in determining their age.

The peak producers of magnesium through the second decade that the 21st century consisted of China, Russia, Turkey, and Austria.

Principal compounds

In compounds, magnesium virtually constantly exhibits a +2 oxidation state due to the fact that of the ns or sharing of its 2 3s electrons. There are, however, a small variety of coordination compounds recognized with magnesium-magnesium bonds, LMg―MgL, in which the magnesium centres have actually a formal +1 oxidation state. Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, wake up in nature as the mineral magnesite and also is crucial source of elemental magnesium. It deserve to be developed artificially by the action of carbon dioxide top top a range of magnesium compounds. The odourless white flour has numerous industrial uses—e.g., as a warmth insulator because that boilers and pipes and also as one additive in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubbers, inks, and also glass. As magnesium carbonate is both hygroscopic and also insoluble in water, it to be the initial additive offered to do table salt free-flowing also in high-humidity conditions.


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

The action of hydrochloric acid on magnesium hydroxide produce magnesium chloride, MgCl2, a colourless, deliquescent (water-absorbing) problem employed in magnesium metal production, in the manufacture of a cement for heavy-duty flooring, and as an additive in textile manufacture. It is additionally used come coagulate soybean beans milk in the production of tofu.

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

Magnesium sulfate, MgSO4, is a colourless crystalline substance formed by the reaction the magnesium hydroxide through sulfur dioxide and also air. A hydrate type of magnesium sulfate referred to as kieserite, MgSO4∙H2O, occurs together a mineral deposit. Synthetically all set magnesium sulfate is sold as Epsom salt, MgSO4∙7H2O. In industry, magnesium sulfate is supplied in the produce of cements and also fertilizers and in tanning and also dyeing; in medication it serves as a purgative. Since of its capacity to absorb water readily, the anhydrous kind is used as a desiccant (drying agent).

Among the organometallic compounds of magnesium are the vital Grignard reagents, created of one organic group (e.g., alkyls and also aryls), a halogen atom other than fluorine, and also magnesium. These are supplied in the manufacturing of numerous other kinds of organic and organometallic compounds.

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Magnesium is essential to all living cells, as the Mg2+ ion is associated with the critically important organic polyphosphate compounds DNA, RNA, and also adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Numerous enzymes depend on magnesium for your functioning. Around one-sixth as numerous as potassium in human being body cells, magnesium is required as a catalyst for enzyme reaction in carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium likewise is vital constituent of the green pigment chlorophyll, discovered in essentially all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. The photosynthetic role of plants depends upon the activity of chlorophyll pigments, i beg your pardon contain magnesium in ~ the centre of a complex, nitrogen-containing ring mechanism (porphyrin). These magnesium compounds enable light power to drive the counter of carbon dioxide and also water come carbohydrates and also oxygen and thus directly or indirectly provide the crucial to virtually all living processes.