Direct Titanium Production from Titanium Slag

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Program:
METALS
Award:
$4,996,597
Location:
Salt Lake City,
Utah
Status:
ALUMNI
Project Term:
02/18/2014 - 09/30/2019

Critical Need:

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:

The University of Utah is developing a reactor that dramatically simplifies titanium production compared to conventional processes. Today's production processes are expensive and inefficient because they require several high-energy melting steps to separate titanium from its ores. The University of Utah's reactor utilizes a magnesium hydride solution as a reducing agent to break less expensive titanium ore into its components in a single step. By processing low-grade ore directly, the titanium can be chemically isolated from other impurities. This design eliminates the series of complex, high-energy melting steps associated with current titanium production. Consolidating several energy intensive steps into one reduces both the cost and energy inputs associated with titanium extraction.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the University of Utah’s reactor would significantly reduce energy inputs and costs for titanium used in aerospace, energy, and industrial applications compared to conventional titanium production methods.

Security:

Light-weighting aircraft and other vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the aerospace industry.

Environment:

Consolidating production steps could reduce energy consumption in titanium primary metal production by 62% and reduce CO2 emissions by eliminating high-energy melting steps.

Economy:

Simplifying titanium extraction and decreasing material inputs could make titanium cost-competitive with stainless steel for transportation applications, particularly in aircraft.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact:
Pei Sun
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
pei.sun@utah.edu

Partners

RTI International Metals, Inc.
The Boeing Company

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Release Date:
09/19/2013