Oxidation of Magnesium: Implication for Aging and Ignition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Magnesium is widely used in pyrotechnic formulations; it is also a component of reactive alloys, e.g., Al-Mg and B-Mg, which are potential fuels for explosives and propellants. Despite its widespread applications, the kinetics of oxidation of Mg powders are not well quantified. Such kinetics are of fundamental importance for the models aimed to describe thermally induced ignition of metal powders. In addition, for Mg the issue of aging is important because its oxide, MgO, is porous. In this work, magnesium oxidation by both oxygen and steam was studied by thermo-analytical measurements for micron-sized spherical powders. Heat flow calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis were used to quantify reaction rates for low and elevated temperature ranges, respectively. Experiments with spherical powders with different but overlapping particle size distributions were used to identify the location of the reaction interface. The reaction was found to occur at the interface of metal and the growing oxide layer for all oxidizing conditions. The reaction is thus rate limited by diffusion of oxidizer to the metal surface. Kinetics of oxidation for both dry and humid oxidizing environments were quantified using thermo-analytical measurements and different data processing techniques. The activation energy of magnesium oxidation in humid environments at low temperatures is close to 60 kJ/mol. Activation energy for oxidation of magnesium in oxygen is 148 kJ/mol. For oxidation of magnesium in steam at elevated temperatures, the activation energy increases linearly from approximately 130 to 360 kJ/mol, while the thickness of the oxide layer is growing up to 2.4 ∼m. Simplified diffusion-limited reaction models were developed for oxidation of magnesium in both oxygen and steam. The models enable one to predict both preignition reactions occurring upon heating of Mg particles and the time of Mg powder aging when exposed to moisture or oxygen at different temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-983
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


Dive into the research topics of 'Oxidation of Magnesium: Implication for Aging and Ignition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this