Introduction to magnesium sulfide

Magnesium sulphide is a white crystalline inorganic compound with an empirical formula MgS. It is generally found in its impure state, which is a brown non-crystalline powder. It cannot be generated normally in the laboratories but can be generated industrially during the production of metallic iron, where the sulphide is first extracted. Figure below shows the white crystals of magnesium sulfide.

image on magnesium sulfide, its structure, crystal

image on magnesium sulfide, its structure, crystal

Properties of magnesium sulfide

Magnesium sulphide is specifically found in some non-terrestrial mineral called niningerite found in meteorites that is very rare in its availability. It is also found in circumstellar envelopes of certain evolved carbon stars.

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When sulphur or hydrogen sulphide reacts with magnesium, Magnesium sulfide is formed.Below is the word equation for the reaction:

Magnesium + sulphur  -> magnesium sulfide

  • Magnesium sulphide forms into rock salt structure upon crystallization.
  • As magnesium sulphide is similar to other element sulphides such as Sodium(Na), Barium(Ba), Calcium(Ca ), it possesses the chemical properties similar to these sulphides.
  • Magnesium sulphide reacts with water to give hydrogen sulphide and magnesium hydroxide.

MgS  +  2H2O  ->  Mg(OH)2  +  H2S

  • Magnesium sulphide acts as a blue-green light emitter as it tends to behave like a wide band gap semiconductor.

In the steelmaking process through BOS, sulfur is removed when it is made to react with magnesium powder that is added in large quantities in the blast furnace thus forming magnesium sulphide that keeps floating on the molten iron until it is filtered out and removed.

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Conclusion for magnesium sulfide

From the discussion on magnesium sulfide above, we conclude that, when Magnesium sulfide comes in contact with the atmospheric moisture it forms hydrogen sulphide. Magnesium Sulphide has many uses & applications and hence it forms an important chemical in laboratories and also used in commercial purposes, as we have seen in many processes.