Titanium is outstandingly strong steel that has a high endurance for corrosion as well as excessive temperatures. This quality makes it an extremely precious metal as most of the new innovations especially in the aviation industry target it. In spite of its outstanding strength, it also happens to be very light in weight hence the growing preference for its use in the aviation industry.
As matters stand, the process of refining titanium is proving to be a major hitch. This is mainly because the process costs too much a factor that impact directly on the cost of the finished product. As much as the aviation industry is currently acknowledging the fact that titanium should turn out as a better airplane manufacturing material as opposed to aluminum, the costs of the metal has continued to provide a big hitch since it makes the end product less competitive in the market.
Since the aviation industry has taken keen interest in changing from the use of aluminum to titanium in air plane manufacture, the main focus is currently directed at reducing the cost of refining the metal. As at present, the cost of refining a pound of titanium is too high with the finished product going at about $30 per pound. With this high cost, the refining of titanium is to blame especially given that the current process also produces toxic waste. It is estimated that if the cost of refining titanium was to come down by as little as $3 per pound, then the metal could become the most viable materials to use in the manufacture of air craft
The old and modern method s of titanium refining
As early as the 1950, the refining of titanium was done using the kroll process. In this method, the titanium was turned into titanium chloride and then latter processed into tetrachloride which was subsequently combined with magnesium to get titanium. However the titanium produced in this method was full of other impurities such as magnesium salts and chlorine gases. This whole process meant that the product had to be further refined to get a product that could be useable in manufacturing
The modern method has tried to eliminate the numerous impurities that often cost extra effort to separate from the titanium. In this method, the titanium oxide is combined with calcium and magnesium oxide and then heated at high temperatures of up to 1,700 degrees centigrade to produce molten oxides that eventually leads into a liquid pool of titanium when subjected to electrolysis. This method eventually finds the titanium settling at the bottom of the mixture due to its greater weight as compared to the oxides. The process ensures a safer and green way of refining titanium. If this method was to be carried out at cheaper costs, the aviation industry would greatly benefit from affordable titanium
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