In 1808, British scientist David used mercury as a cathode to electrolyze magnesium oxide, and for the first time in human history, he produced metallic magnesium. In the 1830s, Faraday first obtained magnesium metal by electrolytic magnesium chloride. Prior to the beginning of World War I, industrial production of magnesium was achieved in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada, but production was limited, with annual production of several hundred tons, mainly for military use.
In the 1880s, only the industrial scale electrolytic cell was first established in Germany to electrolyze anhydrous carnallite to produce magnesium metal. Since then, the industrialization of electrolytic magnesium smelting has begun. After continuous improvements in process and equipment, until now the world has adopted this electrolytic method. That is, a method for producing metal magnesium by using magnesite as raw material and smelting magnesium by molten salt electrolytic method. Using magnesite as raw material can not only provide high-quality magnesium smelting raw materials for electrolysis, but also use the chlorine gas produced by electrolytic magnesium.
As early as the 1930s, some countries in Western Europe used magnesium magnesite from Greece to make magnesium. China has abundant magnesite resources. Since the 1950s, magnesite smelting has been used to produce magnesium metal. Magnesite smelting magnesium mainly consists of two steps: the extraction of anhydrous magnesium chloride and the electrolysis of anhydrous magnesium chloride.