The VALPO Team and Facilities

Thermal Sciences, Machine and Manufacturing Sciences, Electrochemical Science, Finite Element Modeling
State-of-the-art 5 kW solar furnace, state-of-the-art manufacturing laboratory (i.e. CNC machining, 3D printing, and Plasma cutting), Gamry 3000 electrochemical work station, 490 Varion Micro GC, Rigaku MiniFlex 600 Benchtop XRD system, and high-temperature electric furnaces.
ARPA-E Light Metals Program;
Award No. : DE-AR0000421


Sustainable Magnesium Production Process

Thermal Electrolysis of MgO in Molten Salts

  • We produced and recovered Mg by electrolysis of MgO in a molten fluoride.

  • The cell operated with a current efficiency of 86 %
  • The cell reached a current density of 0.5 A-cm-2 at 2.4 V
  • Validated thermal input to cell via external heating and natural convection possible: h > 200 W/m2-K

  • Magnesium is a valuable commodity with an expected rise in demand
  • Electrolysis of MgO much less capital intensive than current MgCl2 process
  • Cleaner, less energy and labor intensive than the Pidgeon process

Sustainable Magnesium Production Process:

(a) Lightweight Vehicles
(b) Recreational Equipment
(c) Casting
(d) Chemical Applications

Thermal Energy displaces the Electrical Energy demand by as much as 50%

Production level: 17,000 metric tons per year (requires 12 cells)


  1. Anode/Anode Bank
  2. Cathode/Cathode Bank
  3. Shroud
  4. Cathode Chamber Inlet
  5. Anode Chamber Inlet
  6. Cathode Chamber Argon Outlet with Flash Vaporization
  7. Anode Chamber Argon Outlet and Anode Electrical Connection
  8. Cathode Electrical Connection

  • $32.5 million – Capital
  • $2.38/kg Mg – Operating Cost (today’s dollars)
  • 6.48 kWhr/kg Mg – Processing Energy
  • 2.5 kg CO2/kg Mg – CO2 Emissions

Production Level: 17,000 Metric Tons Per Year (Requires 33 Cells)

  • $79 million – Capital
  • $2.63/kg Mg – Operating Cost (today’s dollars)
  • 5.02 kWhr/kg Mg – Processing Energy
  • 2.16 kg CO2/kg Mg – CO2 Emissions

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Contact Information
Robert D. Palumbo Ph.D.
Alfred W. Sieving
Chair of Engineering
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Valparaiso University
P: 219.464.5107

Project Partners
  • Chrysler Group LLC
  • Navigant Consulting Inc.
  • Diver Solar LLC & Professor Peter Kissinger at Purdue University
  • Institute of Inorganic Chemistry Slovak Academy of Sciences