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Production of magnesium metal from carnallite brine and dolomite
University of New Brunswick
The following report accurately shows the preliminary analysis into the feasibility of building a magnesium metal plant in Sussex, NB. The report begins with a literature survey into the available methods of producing magnesium metal from the feedstock available. This showed that the best method for creating magnesium metal was to use the electrolysis process. Despite the other processes possible the North American rules and regulations regarding environmental impact will not allow for any other form of current design to be built. The next section details the process that was preformed to accurately determine what the individual steps in the project would be. These individual processes were determined using information from plants currently in operation and future designs. Once this was assembled the mass and energy balances were preformed beginning with the desired product amount and working backwards towards the necessary feed amounts needed. These mass and energy balances determined the plant specifications and all the rest of the analysis of the plant. The amount of production necessary was found based on plants currently in construction and development. With a production capacity of approximately 6,844 kg/h this plant should be competitive based on other plants currently producing magnesium. With these mass and energy balances completed the main pieces of equipment could then be sized and the costs found. The size of the equipment was determined based on heuristics given to us by the professors and found in textbooks that were available. These size parameters were then fed into an analysis program and the parameters were set to determine the economical analysis of the plant. The plant sizing found that the equipment necessary was larger then initially assumed and the heuristics utilized estimated values. The economical analysis done based on the sizing of the equipment showed that the Fixed Capital Investment fell within the expected range for a magnesium plant. Using the Fixed Capital Investment the manufacturing costs were found and a return on investment was calculated. This return on investment and payback period showed that the plant was a risky venture from an investment point of view. A sensitivity analysis was preformed on the product profitability perspective by varying the cost of magnesium by 15%. This resulted in the expected determination that if the cost of magnesium is to rise as predicted this plant becomes more profitable and worth the initial investment. However if the magnesium price falls significantly the plant would become unviable and fail to return the investment. All the values found were slightly off what was expected based on the margin of error for young engineers attempting to design a plant from scratch for the first time. The final conclusion is that this plant is worth a further study to accurately determine whether this location of Sussex NB, is the best possible location for a new magnesium plant.