As automakers are forced to find new and innovative ways to shed weight and increase efficiency, magnesium has become a go-to element to keep vehicles from bulking up. The downside? Magnesium is extremely flammable.
However, numerous sources, organizations and automakers alike, have proclaimed magnesium to not impose a major risk in its use. Hooniverse decided to dig a little deeper into the repercussions of using magnesium in vehicles with a peculiar case.
What you see above are the remains of a C6 Corvette Z06. The Corvette was involved in a minor fender-bender this past summer. Yet, the Corvette almost immediately caught fire from the engine compartment and quickly became a burly ball of fire.
In order to save weight, GM engineers constructed the subframe of the C6 Corvette Z06 out of magnesium, the same flammable element we’ve been discussing. Knowing what happened to this Corvette, is it possible magnesium usage could have worse consequences if a series of unfortunate events occur?
Local fire officials are still unsure what actually caused the fire, but metal (believed to be magnesium) pooled to the surface and even caught fire itself. Officials also stated the intense blaze was extraordinarily difficult to put out. The fire department used two tanks of water (1,000 gallons) and class B foam to finally extinguish the fire. Magnesium does not respond well to foam or water; sand and powders are most effective at extinguishing its blaze.
The C6 Corvette could be a clear example of the dangers surrounding magnesium usage. But, keep in mind, it seems some perfect series of events had to have occurred to actually ignite this fire.