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Toward lowering titanium's cost and environmental footprint for lightweight products

Date:
December 18, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
A novel method for extracting titanium, a metal highly valued for its light weight, high strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency. The method significantly reduces the energy required to separate it from its tightly bound companion, oxygen.
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A novel method for extracting titanium, a metal highly valued for its light weight, high strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency. The method, which significantly reduces the energy required to separate it from its tightly bound companion, oxygen, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Zhigang Zak Fang and colleagues note that while titanium is the fourth most common metal in Earth's crust, the high-energy, high-cost method used to extract it prevents its use in broader applications. The metal's light weight, strength, stability and corrosion resistance earned it valued roles on the Mars Odyssey mission, in wedding rings and in deep-sea submersibles. Titanium also could be used to significantly lighten and strengthen commercial products and materials. But currently, titanium is too expensive for widespread use.

The most common technique, called the Kroll process, used to extract the metal from titanium oxide was invented in the 1930s and has undergone slight improvements. But by and large, the method, which requires temperatures over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, keeps prices for the metal high. Fang's team decided to try out a new approach to make titanium more accessible.

The scientists discovered that they could eliminate the energy-intensive steps of the Kroll process. In the lab, they successfully tested a new series of reactions for isolating titanium that halves the temperature requirements of the conventional method and consumes 60 percent less energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhigang Zak Fang, Scott Middlemas, Jun Guo, Peng Fan. A New, Energy-Efficient Chemical Pathway for Extracting Ti Metal from Ti Minerals. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 135 (49): 18248 DOI: 10.1021/ja408118x

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American Chemical Society. "Toward lowering titanium's cost and environmental footprint for lightweight products." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112956.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, December 18). Toward lowering titanium's cost and environmental footprint for lightweight products. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112956.htm
American Chemical Society. "Toward lowering titanium's cost and environmental footprint for lightweight products." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112956.htm (accessed May 26, 2015).

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