Gas switching, USA

Project name Conversion of SF6 to an alternative cover gas in magnesium production
Project location Eaton Rapids, Michigan, USA
Project type SF6 gas switching
Standard Verified Carbon Standard Version 3 / CDM Approved baseline and monitoring methodology AM0065
Project status Operational
Portfolio Current

About the project

Meridian Magnesium Products is a manufacturer of automotive parts made from magnesium alloys. Meridian parts can be found in the engine of a GM Cadillac, the dashboard of a BMW X3 and the chassis of a Ford Mustang among many other vehicles.

Two processes at Meridian’s manufacturing plants in the USA and Canada previously emitted substantial greenhouse gases:

1) A process which involves heating/melting magnesium alloy, and injecting it into a mold.
2) Recycling scrap metal to create magnesium ingots.

Both of these processes involve heating metals to extreme temperatures. Because molten magnesium can ignite (catch fire) in the presence of oxygen, both processes must be enclosed, and the airspace filled with a gas which will prevent ignition of the molten magnesium. Prior to the Project, Meridian used the industry- standard “cover gas”: sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). SF6 is inexpensive, non-reactive with magnesium, non-toxic, and relatively easy to use. However, SF6 is also an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas that has a global warming impact about 23,900 times stronger than CO2.


How do the projects contribute to carbon reduction?

Meridian led an effort in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find alternatives to SF6. This working group selected an alternative gas mixture called NOVEC™ 612 as the best environmental solution. However, it was also among the most expensive. In order to help fund the switch from SF6 to NOVEC™ 612, Meridian helped write a carbon credit methodology that would allow magnesium product manufacturers to generate, verify, and sell carbon credits. This methodology is available for use by all die casters.

Meridian was the first commercial user of NOVEC™ 612 for magnesium manufacturing in the United States. The company took substantial risk in this adoption as many production issues and questions had not been addressed when they made the decision to switch, especially since the manufacturing facilities were operational (not new). Meridian began its carbon crediting activities almost immediately upon deciding to switch gases. The changes were implemented in 2007 and 2008 at manufacturing plants in Michigan, US and Ontario, Canada. The sale of these credits has assisted in funding the conversion. The project reduces GHG emissions by approximately 200-250k metric tons of COe per year.

In recognition of its leadership in this area, Meridian won the 2011 International Environmental Responsibility Award from the International Magnesium Association. The award was created to recognize companies that are playing an active role in reducing the magnesium industry’s carbon footprint and that exemplify the global magnesium industry. It includes all aspects of the magnesium industry from primary production through end-user industries.

Who is behind the project?

Meridian Magnesium Products is a manufacturer of automotive parts made from magnesium alloys. Since 2001, the company has maintained a robust ISO 14001 environmental management system. This system has generated over 50 objectives and targets to reduce its overall environmental impact. Through these programs, Meridian has lowered its carbon emissions per ton of metal produced by 72% at its Eaton Rapids, Michigan Facility.

Magnesium plays an important role in the light-weighting of all passenger vehicles, including hybrids and EVs. The fuel efficiency of all vehicles incorporating magnesium products (including hybrids and EVs) improves relative to traditional materials. In relation to this, Meridian is a central actor in the United States Automotive Materials Partnership (USAMP), an initiative that is investigating ways to develop a family car that can attain 80 mpg. It involves the U.S. government, automakers, suppliers, universities, and national laboratories.

Key benefits

  • Leading the way in switching from harmful SF6 cover gas;
  • Reduction of GHG emissions by 250k metric tonnes of COe per year;
  • New carbon credit methodology developed available to all magnesium product manufacturers in the United States;
  • Supports innovation and efficiency in the automotive industry by improving vehicle fuel efficiency and carbon emissions by reducing vehicle weight without compromising strength;

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