Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Iver E. Anderson


Gas atomized magnesium powders are critical for the production of a wide variety of flares, tracer projectiles, and other munitions for the United States military, along with a growing number of applications in both alloying and powder metallurgy. Gas atomization of magnesium is performed by numerous companies worldwide, but represents a single point failure within the United States as there is only one domestic producer. These powders are pyrophoric and must be handled carefully and kept dry at all times. Recent studies have explored the ability of certain fluorine containing cover gases to protect molten magnesium in casting operations from excessive vaporization and burning by modifying the native oxide (MgO) through interaction with these gas atmospheres. The present study sought to adapt this melt protection strategy for use as an in-situ passivation technique that could be employed to form a protective reaction film during gas atomization of magnesium powders. This fluorinated oxide shell was intended to provide superior coverage and adherence to the underlying metal, which may improve the ability of powders to resist ignition at elevated temperatures and during powder handling. Two candidate gases were tested in this research, SF6 and NF3, and reaction films of both were produced on miniature melt samples in a controlled environment and characterized using auger electron spectroscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Ultimately, SF6 was chosen to conduct a small scale magnesium atomization experiment for verification of the fluorination reaction and to experimentally test the ignition temperature of these coated particles compared to other magnesium powders available today. This novel passivation technique was found to be far superior to magnesium's native oxide at resisting ignition and, thus, to reduce the hazard associated with handling and transport of magnesium powders for defense applications. If fully commercialized, this passivation method also may open up a new arena for powder metallurgy processing of structural parts from Mg and Mg alloy powders.


Copyright Owner

Andrew Douglas Steinmetz



File Format


File Size

113 pages