Primary production of lightweight metals such as titanium is an energy-intensive and expensive process that results in significant carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions. Lowering the energy consumption, cost, and emissions associated with processing titanium would make it more competitive with incumbent structural metals such as steel. Enabling more widespread use of titanium in the aerospace, energy, and industrial sectors—without compromising performance or safety—would substantially reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions from its applications.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
SRI International is developing a reactor that is able to either convert titanium tetrachloride to titanium powder or convert multiple metal chlorides to titanium alloy powder in a single step. Conventional titanium extraction and conversion processes involve expensive and energy intensive melting steps. SRI is examining the reaction between hydrogen and metal chlorides, which could produce titanium alloys without multiple complicated steps. Using titanium powder for transportation applications has not been practical until now because of the high cost of producing powder from titanium ingots. SRI’s reactor requires less material because it produces powder directly rather than converting it from intermediate materials such as sponge or ingot. Transforming titanium production into a direct process could reduce costs and energy consumption by eliminating energy intensive steps and decreasing material inputs.
If successful, SRI’s reactor will reduce the cost, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions associated with titanium alloy production.
Light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the aerospace industry.
Simplifying the titanium production process by eliminating high-energy melting steps would reduce energy consumption and decrease CO2 emissions.
Producing titanium alloys at a cost similar to stainless steel could make light-weight vehicles a cost competitive option for improving vehicle fuel efficiency, which could result in substantial overall fuel savings in the transportation sector.