15 November 2007


Manchester:15 November 2007

Armoured Vehicle Manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to reduce the weight of their vehicles in order to improve performance while not compromising on protection. Over the years, aluminium plate has replaced steel, but now designers are turning to the special ultra lightweight properties of magnesium to further improve the capability of their products.

In September 2007, Magnesium Elektron (part of the Luxfer Group) and the US Army Research Laboratory entered into a 5-year collaborative agreement worth $12.15 million to develop Ultra Lightweight Metallic Armour (ULMA). The Agreement seeks to exploit Magnesium Elektron's market leading high strength alloy technology for the production of magnesium armour plate. The new plate will potentially be used on the US Army's various light armoured vehicles, including the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle), JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) and FCS (Future Combat Systems).

The ULMA project will be funded from the United States Federal Defense Budget. With the support of US Congressman Jerry Costello and Senator Richard Durbin, the ULMA project has now been awarded $1.6 million for fiscal year 2008.

Magnesium Elektron has worked closely with the US Army, the US Army Research Laboratory and several prime US armoured vehicle manufacturers in a joint effort to produce, test and evaluate various new high strength magnesium alloys. Magnesium Elektron was also charged with using its manufacturing expertise to develop a viable commercial process for the high volume production of the new high strength magnesium alloys.

Mr. Richard DeLorme, Technical Manager, at Magnesium Elektron's MENA operation based in Madison, Illinois will act as Luxfer's Project Manager.

MENA's Executive VP, Chris Barnes commented, �We at MENA are humbled and excited to support our troops in any way we can. The metals employed for light armoured tactical vehicles need to be lighter while providing the necessary protection for those soldiers on board. The wrought magnesium alloys being developed and commercialised by Magnesium Elektron can achieve improved ballistic performance with a substantial weight saving thus providing better value to the Army over the life of the vehicle. It's all about saving our troops' lives, and Magnesium Elektron is proud to work with the US Army in an effort to achieve that goal.�

Brian Purves, Luxfer's CEO, observed �This is an excellent example of how Luxfer's acknowledged metallurgical and manufacturing expertise is being used to generate new high performance materials for ever more demanding applications.�

The photograph shows an example of the ballistic testing of Elektron 675 magnesium alloy.