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A Cleaner, Cheaper Route to Titanium

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the better-stronger-faster dept.

335

Burlap writes "Using technology developed at MIT, 4-person startup Avanti Metal hopes to reduce the cost of producing Titanium from the current $40 per pound to a mere $3. The article discusses how a special combinations of oxides and electrolysis separates the titanium metal from the Earth's abundant titanium oxide ore."

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Print Friendly View (3, Insightful)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499225)

http://www.techreview.com/printer_friendly_article .aspx?id=16963 [techreview.com]

Yeah, the ad... not very helpful.

Re:Print Friendly View (1)

jamie (78724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499309)

Sorry about that. For whatever reason, techreview.com's server was redirecting readers back to an ad page on slashdot.org (?!). I updated the URL in the story to the printer-friendly one you gave (thanks).

Electrolysis of Water is more effective, & gen (-1)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499713)

I don't know what else can't have benefit derive from its electrolysis. I've seen a foundry with a crucible over a Hydrogen flame to melt and separate/purify metals. Related to that further, I've been experimenting to homebrew hydrogen production, and have attained good results. Given that there has been a rash of on-topic Slashdot articles where I can post this information, on Water Electrolysis, see my previous post [slashdot.org] that exhibits the relevent URLs to content on Google Video for Water Electrolysis and Joe Cell processes to produce the viable Hydrogen and Oxygen necessary for such a flame. There isn't much, short of a nuclea reaction, that can process titanium.

Finally! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499236)

I can have brass, silver, gold, and titanium pantalones! And perhaps a big metal unit as well!

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499320)

Pantaloons, not pantalones. And the brass ones were pantalettes [planetbaldursgate.com] . What do titanium pantaloons do?

I already know that. Sigh. You'd have a Big Metal Unit wearing titanium pantaloons.

Ad problem. (1)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499239)

So maybe I should sell my wedding band now, and buy it back in 2010 for a fraction of the price!

Seriously, though, to read the article, I had to "Copy Link Location" and paste it into the address bar, and it worked.

Great article, too. I love hearing stuff like this.

Re:Ad problem. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499469)

You actually have a titanium wedding ring? I tried one of those on in the store. It was way too light and kind of felt like plastic. Like something you'd find in a gumball machine. Sorry, only real gold for me. Titanium is great for other things that benefit from being light, like cars, bicycles, and shotguns. Imagine having a car with all the steel parts replaced with titanium. It would be a lot lighter, and you'd get better gas mileage, and no rust.

Re:Ad problem. (2, Informative)

Namronorman (901664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499588)

Or eyewear. Titanium: Light, durable, and not too many people that I know of are allergic to it because it's low in allergens. In fact, I wear a pair of DKNY Titanium Frames with "Featherwates" lenses... 0.7 ounces, or roughly 19.84 (ooh spooky) grams!

Re:Ad problem. (2, Interesting)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499629)

Then why not get a ring made out of Tungsten? It's pretty expensive too and twice as dense as gold.

I'm surprised (5, Interesting)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499240)

No one found this earlier. The Hall-Heroult Process for aluminium is basically the same,and has been known for well over a century.

Re:I'm surprised (0, Flamebait)

cnflctd (69843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499301)

And all they've produces so far is a few grams of metal. They get so excited, they start a company, promise to lower costs by 85%, and put out a begging bowl.

What a country. Is the MIT part even real?

Re:I'm surprised (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499324)

I agree. I was expecting something uber complicated, but its just electrolysis of the oxide.

I wonder how this will affect the Al commodity price. I better sell all my coke cans quick!

Re:I'm surprised (4, Insightful)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499360)

I agree, although the temperatures that they say that this process occurs at are almost twice the temperature you need to refine aluminum. That might explain why it was considered practical for aluminum, but not considered for titanium. They did say that they were having problems with heat.

Re:I'm surprised (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499395)

Maybe everyone's been looking for a similar process, but only these guys (claim to) have succeeded by setting the right temperature and mixing with the right electrolytes... and probably a lot of very import details that are not in the article.

Re:I'm surprised (5, Informative)

AtomicBomb (173897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499431)

The concept is not new: basically the same as the Hall cell for aluminium production. But, I believe finding a suitable salt is not that easy. In the case of aluminium, cyrolite is used. In titanium, what's the suitable one? Suppose you mix Ti2O3 with another metal salt, you may get another metal instead of Ti. Needless to say, the whole electrolysis process gets quite messy at 1500+ degC.

Re:I'm surprised (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499586)

Another cleaner, cheaper route for Titanium production has been developed in Cambridge, UK.

Reach about the FFC Process for Titanium Extraction [cam.ac.uk] .

Better processing available (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499270)

Nobody uses the Titanium. Servers just use a MD Pteron if they want price-performance. And Onroe is just around the corner. Even cheaper Titaniums aren't worth the bother. Ntel can't drop the product line as a matter of face, but consumers just aren't buying it.

Apples and oranges... (4, Informative)

THotze (5028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499300)

I always love articles like this when they compare the price of MAKING something with the price of SELLING something. Titanium's sold on a market sort of like oil... prices fluctuate based on demand more than they do based on the cost of production.... if the price of titanium is $40 this year, and was half as much last year... last year it was $20, and I'm SURE that people were making a profit selling that, so it was produced for probably a maximum of $15, probably more like $10/lb.

So yes, this saves money... but it needs to be done in a large scale, 1st. I don't know how they come up with a cost/lb estimate that they consider to be more than VERY ball park estimate... $3 could be $6.

Its substantial savings, but its not like we're going to be able to start planning our houses with titanium frames in a few years or anything. And that's assuming that demand doesn't keep skyrocketing above supply... in which case we could have the same price (or more!) regardless of how much it costs to produce titanium.

Tim

Re:Apples and oranges... (2, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499463)

If, as they say, it can be completed with far fewer messy components, then it is more likely to be approved by a planning council. If that is the case, then there would be more factories built, increasing supply to better meet demand, and reducing the cost of the metal on the spot market accordingly.

Re:Apples and oranges... (4, Insightful)

diablomonic (754193) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499487)

I agree on the whole "announce a price when we havent even got a commercial demo plant" thing being stupid, but you seem to have missed something. According to the article, supply of titanium is currently very limited due to environmental concerns, while demand keeps going up (and, although I'm not a metalurgist, is there any reason that titanium couldnt replace steel almost entirely if it was cheap enough? thats a lot of demand!). This removes that supply problem entirely if it works of course.

Re:Apples and oranges... (2, Insightful)

PackerX (727195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499665)

This removes that supply problem entirely if it works of course.

Let's think of this from a business standpoint: patent the process. Produce titanium in small numbers to prevent market saturation. Charge the same amount as everyone else, but at 10% the production cost. I don't see the savings being passed to the consumer anytime soon.

Re:Apples and oranges... (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499717)

"and, although I'm not a metalurgist, is there any reason that titanium couldnt replace steel almost entirely if it was cheap enough?"

In addition to being expensive, titanium is NOT easy to work with.

Re:Apples and oranges... (3, Informative)

autophile (640621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499659)

Well, according to this US gov't report on titanium prices [usgs.gov] , titanium has never been cheaper, and consumption is generally up. I could find any market for titanium futures, BTW. Not COMEX, not FOREX, nothing. I wonder why that is?

--Rob

Re:Apples and oranges... (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499677)

I couldn't find any market for titanium futures
is what I meant to say. And I did preview :/

Great for chainmaillers (4, Interesting)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499315)

Sweet! I'm sure this will likely have a significantly higher impact on pretty much all products as is, but this will affect me in a slightly different way. I'm one of the few that make chainmail as a hobby. Titanium chainmail is significantly lighter, rusts less, etc, etc. Significantly better for metalcraft than stainless steel or galvanized steel or anything like that in my opinion.

So, having cheaper working materials = excellent for people like me :}

Re:Great for chainmaillers (2, Funny)

PainBreak (794152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499350)

Sweet deal, that's what.. +4, +5 against illegal immigrants?

No, seriously. Who would buy titanium chainmail? Some pretty serious D&Ders in here...

Oh well, at least it'll drive down the price of the MacBook.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499377)

I'm guessing it'd be more the Society for Creative Anachronism types. They're sort of like D&Ders, but they skip the dice-throwing but and just hit each other with the swords. I'm sure you can see where chainmail would be useful in this scenario.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499606)

He sounds like a high tech only geek. I know quite a few people who would love to have a good suit of mail. Many of them are SCA people, but some of them are more like me (I trained martially since I was about 6. Primarily kung fu with cross training in Japanese and European sword arts).

Doing some of those things makes armor come in really handy on occasion. I'm not a big fan of chain, though. It tends to bind at the shoulders if it's not done well. I perfered a chinese style breastplate and bracers when I wore heavy weapons armor.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499359)

BWA HA HA HA HA!
Your puny weapons cannot pierce my titanium exoskeleton!
Kneel before me!

Re:Great for chainmaillers (2, Interesting)

CracktownHts (655507) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499450)

Forgive me for commenting on something I know next to nothing about, but would you actually be able to work with titanium the way you work with whatever you normally use (I assume steel)? I believe Parker (the pen company) had to cancel their titanium pen (the T-1) in the early 1970s because it was too difficult to work with. They only made it for a few months and the surviving ones trade hands for around a thousand bucks these days.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

Drakonite (523948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499530)

For the work he is talking about, yes you can work with titanium in the same way. It can be more difficult work of course, depending on the exact alloy being used. On the softer end of the scale it's quite a bit easier to work with than stainless steel; and though softer alloys are not as strong as heavier alloys, the strength/weight ratio is great and it still has some other very nice properties.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499545)

It's not as bad as one thinks. Sure, if I work with 12 or 14 gauge wire, it'll be hell to close the rings. Not impossible, but... hell.

However, 16, 18, or higher gauge wire isn't too bad, very workable.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499468)

You might be able to license that idea to Harry Turtledove for a novel...

rj

Re:Great for chainmaillers (2, Funny)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499490)

Normally I hate getting chain letters, but at $40/lb, it might not be such a bad deal. I'm not worried about bad luck so I'd just sell them when the price is high. Shall I email you my snail-mail address?

-matthew

Chainmail (3, Interesting)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499574)

You make chainmail? Truly, a geek among geeks. You ought to be careful -- if the amount of geekosity in a given area of space gets too high, it can collapse into a dork-hole.

Just jeffin' ya. Sounds like an interesting hobby. Know anyone who makes swords? I've heard that the metallurgy that goes into a modern metal blade is quite impressive, and that modern swords -- despite being made almost entire by hobbyists -- are far superior to the swords of antiquity.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499576)

Hey Kab, Tawnos here, I think this is the first time I've seen one of us on /., and I read daily.

Echoing his thoughts a bit, I, too, make maille. My 6-1 titanium vest has an estimated 500-600 dollars worth of metal in it, with many grades of Ti, from Grade 2 (aka CP "commercially pure") to Grade 5 (aircraft grade, an alloy that's much stronger).

I feel it is necessary to dispell a few myths about titanium. One, it's not stronger than steel, nor even as strong as steel. Pound for pound it is, but not overall. Spring stainless is much tougher than even the grade 5 tempered Ti. Two, it's not especially hard to work with WHEN BENDING. While it is more brittle than steel, the amount of bending we put into a ring to create a piece of maille does not even begin to produce elastic stresses. Three, titanium itself is not that hard, it's the titanium dioxide that forms when it is exposed to air. This dulls tools quickly, and makes machining titanium difficult.

Painbreak: I wouldn't buy it, I make it because it's a labor of love. Something to do in what little free time I have.

Misleb: not chain letters, "maille" is a metal fabric created through the interlinking of rings.

Re:Great for chainmaillers (1)

Brianwa (692565) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499622)

Does titanium hold an edge well enough to make knives out of it?

Investments (1)

dclocke (929925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499316)

Guess I'd better move my money from titanium futures to gold and silver.

Re:Investments (1)

corngrower (738661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499752)

You haven't been following the stock of Titanium metals have you? It's increased in price about 10x over the last two or three years.

I can't wait for my new Titanium bike now! (1)

zhangyong (791280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499332)

If the cost of making Titanium drops that much, everything Aluminium can be replaced by Titanium, plane, racket, bike... mmm... Well, not everything...

Re:I can't wait for my new Titanium bike now! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499400)

If you aren't shy about performing such acts in public, could you elucidate?

KFG

WOO HOO! (5, Funny)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499403)

Titanium foil hats HERE WE COME!

Not exactly (1)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499406)

Titanium is much heavier than Aluminium, so I don't see titanium soda cans or anything on the horizon (bikes, probably. Planes... maybe partially.) However, in many cases it's a very strong contender for replacing steel. Unless the metal is going to be getting extremely hot (IIRC, at over 800 degrees C titanium will burn in a nitrogen atmosphere) or you need it to be magnetic, titanium offers 40% less weight and 30% increased strength over steel.

It's win/win. A titanium car will get better gas milage due to weight reduction, yet would fare better in an accident than a similarly-sized steel car. A titanium construction beam will support more than a steel beam while putting less stress on the supports below it.

Re:Not exactly (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499424)

I don't see titanium soda cans or anything on the horizon (bikes, probably. Planes... maybe partially.)
You gotta be joking. Titanium has been used in bicycles for years, and in aerospace for decades. So the question is not whether titanium will be used, but how much more widely it will be used.

Re:Not exactly (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499663)

You gotta be joking. Titanium has been used in bicycles for years, and in aerospace for decades.

Bought a titanium bike frame made by Teledyne in '74. They used the same facilities to build the bike that they had developed for making Space Shuttle bits. Nobody else has yet made a titanium bike quite like this one because Teledyne was able to make everything, such as tubing and fork crowns, custom in house, without relying on purchasing parts. I miss that bike. Traded it for a steel Cinelli. Took 28 seconds of my 10 mile TT PB the first time I rode it. Stiffness never was one of the virtues of the Teledyne, but it rode like a dream. The best long hauler I've ever ridden. Could have used some damping material injected into the fork or something. It could flex sympathetically on washboard roads.

Been thinking about getting a Spectrum, which is actually made by Merlin to Tom Kellog's specs, but I've known Ben Serotta since he was a 21 year old kid opening his first bike shop, and he started making titanium frames awhile ago and I figure I should give them look over.

Shit's old hat.

KFG

Re:Not exactly (5, Insightful)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499509)

Not to be pedantic or anything, but you would actually fare worse in a car wreck in a Titanium car, as it wouldn't give as readily as steel. The more time the impact lasts, the less force the passengers experience. So in a wreck between a titanium Geo Metro and a steel Geo Metro, the passengers of the titanium car could be extracted faster but would be more likely to die. There are more considerations to engineering than just weight and efficiency. If something cant get you from point A to point B as safely as the less-efficient alternative, than the less-efficient alternative bears at least some looking into.

Re:Not exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499542)

Wrong. In a wreck between a titanium Metro and a steel Metro, the steel Metro's crumpling would help both car's passengers equally. The titanium passengers would thus be better off.

Re:Not exactly (4, Insightful)

Eccles (932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499550)

Not to be pedantic or anything, but you would actually fare worse in a car wreck in a Titanium car, as it wouldn't give as readily as steel.

So why don't we make cars out of cotton wool or balsa wood?

You want crumple zones, yes, but surrounding a stiff inner structure. That's why doors have stiff cross-beams in them, race cars have roll cages, etc. No titanium for the crumple zones, sure, but you want it for the roll cage.

Re:Not exactly (1)

Orangejesus (898961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499558)

not to be pedantic, but he said the car would fare better not the passenger.

Re:Not exactly (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499533)

Steel replacement is an option. I think that the big win is the better durability (reduced corrosion) though. I'd also be interested in the performance of Ti under elevated temperature.

Steel works well for buildings, I'm not sure that would be a big market for the cheap Ti.

Titanium robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499414)

... Well, not everything...

Yeah, it just wouldn't sound quite right to hear Bender say "Bite my shiny titanium ass".

Re:Titanium robots (1)

LiMikeTnux (770345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499767)

well i think he would still say bite my shiney METAL ass, givin that titanioum is, after all, a metal...


Joke destroyed.

Re:I can't wait for my new Titanium bike now! (1)

dixa213 (613542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499673)

Actually, high-end bike frames are already made from titanium. A google search turns up several sellers.

Whoo Hoo (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499358)

Now everyone can own a batmobile! Ok minus the jset engine. On a more serious note it might be nice for laptops, so that they will never break when dropped ever again.

Re:Whoo Hoo (2, Insightful)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499412)

For the harddrive and other parts not to break, the laptop better have some sort of buffer to break the fall instead.

Re:Whoo Hoo (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499421)

Titanium has been tried for notebook computers. The stuff is hard to form, I think hard to machine, and it's hard to get anything to stick to it. Apple used it for what is now called the "TiBook". It had a colored surface coating to give it the color that people thought titanium had because the real color wasn't as exciting.

Oh, cool... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499364)

Now I can buy the colorful lights for the warp drive engine instead spending all the money on plating the hull with expensive titanium. Warp 1 has never been so cheap!

Re:Oh, cool... (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499478)

Nope, you're gonna have to wait for cheap TRItanium.

rj

BIG DEAL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499367)

Wizards have been turning lead into gold for centuries

Steel Age (4, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499374)

Thank God! I thought the Steel Age was never going to end!

-Peter

Wow... (1)

chriswaclawik (859112) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499543)

Someone's acting awfully aluminum! [imdb.com]

Re:Wow... (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499598)

Wow, my comment is way funnier when I read it with his voice! Thanks for that!

-Peter

Re:Steel Age (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499600)

It's been the polymer age for a few decades now.

Re:Steel Age (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499632)

Okay, sorry dude.

Now will you please PUT DOWN THE GLOCK?

-Peter

More use of Titanium in everyday applications? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499380)

I wonder what this will mean for use of titanium in everyday applications. There's a certain cachet to titanium, but its not all that clear that everyday things, such as tools and such actually *need* the special properties of titanium.

I say... (1)

Talez (468021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499383)

Your 3 cent Titanium tax goes too far!

Oblig. Response (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499413)

I say your 3-cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

Re:Oblig. Response (1)

Captain Irreverence (761516) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499456)

Someone's acting awfully aluminum.

Re:I say... (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499417)

I say your 3 cent Titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

-:sigma.SB

Re:I say... (0, Redundant)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499485)

And I say your 3 cent Titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

Aluminium? (1)

johansalk (818687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499386)

How is Titanium better than Aluminium?

Re: Aluminum? (1)

English Socialism (980362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499427)

Sweet! Titanium foil!

Re:Aluminium? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499441)

I don't have first-hand knowledge of this but supposedly the Ti in wheelchairs has the property of acting like a shock absorber while at the same time not compromising rigidity at all over Al. Also, like 20-25% lighter than comparable Al. I imagine it would be the same for bicycles(?), etc.

Re:Aluminium? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499442)

For starters, it has a high strength to weight ratio and has a much higher melting point. It may be more durable from a fatigue perspective.

Re:Aluminium? (5, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499508)

Twice as strong vs 1.6 times as heavy, higher melting point, better resistance to corrosion and fatigue.

rj

Re:Aluminium? (3, Informative)

corngrower (738661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499732)

And it maintains it's strength at high temperatures. Steel tends to weaken quite a bit as it gets hot.
This is why titanium is used in things like the turbine blades of jet engines, and the leading edges of supersonic aircraft.

About two years ago the folks at Oxford University developed a process for producing the metal from
its common ore more cheaply that the process commonly in use. I think it's now being tested
commercially at at least one company here in the U.S. I'ld bet that the MIT process is very
similar to the one developed at Oxford.

Titanium oxide is commonly used as a white pigment for paints.

Re:Aluminium? (2, Funny)

th77 (515478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499529)

I think Bender put it best [things.org] :


      Bender: I'll miss you, Leela. I know you're just a carbon-based
                  life-form, but I'll always think of you as a big pile of
                  titanium. [Sniffles]
          Fry: What Bender means is, you're really brave, and smart and
                  beautiful and a great friend.
      Bender: Just like titanium. [Sobs]
        Leela: This is all a big load. I was the one trying to save
                  the Popplers. You [Points at Fry] were sucking them
                  down like the fat hog you are, and you [Points at
                  Bender] were stepping on them for fun. You both should
                  be in here instead of me.
      Bender: Someone's acting awfully aluminum.

Re:Aluminium? (2, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499560)

Titanium doesn't corrode as much, and it's non-poisonous. It's one of the few things that is safe to implant in a human body. The oxide is use to make foods white.

Meanwhile, aluminum has issues. At best it makes your soda taste yucky after a while. Maybe it contributes to Altzheimer's disease. If you cook tomatoes in an aluminum pan, you'll get holes in the pan.

Aluminum (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499619)

Isn't aluminum known for being quite combustible? I seem to recall there being a rather serious "incident" when it turned out that the aluminum hulls on Britain's destroyers would ignite after being hit by torpedoes, resulting in self-sustaining combustion. I could be misremembering though, so don't take my word for it.

Re:Aluminum (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499646)

Ever through an aluminum can in a fire? Yep, it burns before it melts. I don't think a peice of steel would do that.

Fire (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499653)

I haven't ... yet. Now I have one less excuse to not go camping.

The Sheffield and it's aluminum superstructure (2, Informative)

erice (13380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499784)

The Sheffield was lost in the Falkland Islands conflict. It is popularly beleived that this was due to the alumiminum superstructure catching fire. However, it seems that the Sheffield did not have an aluminum superstructure and the Sheffield was lost for other reasons.

http://www.hazegray.org/faq/smn6.htm#F7 [hazegray.org]
http://www.alfed.org.uk/templates/alfed/content.as p?PageId=111 [alfed.org.uk]

It is also worth noting that any metal can catch fire if you get it hot enough, even steel.

Re:Aluminium? (5, Informative)

Frangible (881728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499836)

Several reasons:

1. Insulation; titanium is less condutive of heat/electricity. This can be a benefit or detriment depending on the application.
2. Strength; the same amount of Ti/Al alloys to support a specific load can be made with a lighter weight of Ti. An equal volume of Ti is heavier than Al, though.
3. Fatigue life; titanium, like iron, has infinite fatigue life. Aluminum does not. What this means is you can make a spring from Ti but Al will fail if repeatedly stressed.
4. Corrosion; titanium is more corrosion resistant than Al because it oxidizes rapidly in contact with air
5. Social reasons; titanium has significantly more percieved value than Al, moreso than the material differences. Further Ti has a unique color as well.

Sometimes aluminum will still be better; in many applications the relative strength difference doesn't matter and thus a lighter equivalent volume of Al is advantageous. Also, the high conductivity of Al is a good thing in many situations.

The most common Ti alloy, Ti-6Al-4V, actually has 6% Al in it.

Awesome! (4, Informative)

eric434 (161022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499416)

I took Sadoway's class last year. Awesome guy -- this is right up his alley (making things more environmentally friendly).

Here's a PDF presentation on the process:
http://web.mit.edu/dsadoway/www/MOE_Ti.pdf [mit.edu]

Re:Awesome! (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499562)

That's rather interesting. The Lunar mining idea is cool.

Thanks.

Re:Awesome! (1)

obnoxiousbastard (239578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499572)

Thanks for the info Eric.

It's nice to hear from someone who has something relevant to add besides sarcasm.

One of my first jobs (5, Interesting)

IamNotAgeek (708764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499435)

I worked at a titanium manufacturing plant where I analyzed samples for nitrogen contamination. Even though it was a pretty low level repetitive job, I still felt like a scientist working in a lab wearing a lab coat and the head chemist was a guy from Sweden named Jurgen (?sp). I also remember that the titanium tetrachloride was so volatile that just a spoonfull released into the atmosphere would create a huge white cloud and the fire department would show up and management would have to fill out an incident report. Good memories, except for the time I got hydrofluoric acid on my fingers, very painfull, and of course when I accidently breathed in some vapors and had frequent nosebleeds for several years afterwards.

Re:One of my first jobs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499699)

I worked at a titanium manufacturing plant

titanium tetrachloride was so volatile that just a spoonfull released into the atmosphere would create a huge white cloud

I got hydrofluoric acid on my fingers

I accidently breathed in some vapors


You sound like a dumbass.

Is that why they fired you?

You know what this means? (1, Funny)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499453)

MacBook Pros are going to be cheap!!

Oh ok I'll take my tablets now...

For those that took 3.091 (2, Informative)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499458)

Looks like Sadoway may just be on his way to that Nobel prize he's been obsessed with. :P

For those that aren't familiar with MIT's most pimp chem prof you can enjoy a full semester of his lectures right here: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Materials-Science-and-En gineering/3-091Fall-2004/LectureNotes/index.htm [mit.edu]

1,700 degrees Celsius (0)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499476)

That is rather hot. So apart from the natural gas well required to melt the stuff, you also need a nuclear power station for electricity. Something tells me it is going to cost a leeeetle bit more than $3 per pound.

Re:1,700 degrees Celsius (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499757)

Note that aluminum production is notorious for using lots of electrical power for the same reasons. As a result aluminum refining plants are almost always located close to power plants. Despite this, aluminum is quite cheap.

Re:1,700 degrees Celsius (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499810)

Despite this, aluminum is quite cheap.
Before the current methods of aluminum production existed, it was actually very difficult to produce in significant amounts.

The Washington Monument was capped with a piece of aluminum to show how wealthy the United States was--at the time, aluminum was more expensive than gold.

Re:1,700 degrees Celsius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499789)

Unless you were to construct a nuclear power plant to directly heat the titanium oxide mixture using the reactor pile itself. I'm guessing you could recover almost all of the heat from the process to reuse in the electric generators and thus the energy cost of making the titanium would be close to zero.

40$ only (1)

Klanglor (704779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499506)

dammit should have gotten the gold quoated watch. titanium watch selles for the same price as gold even abit more. but gold is woth 400ish now a day :P

gold is at $613.30 today NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15499684)

NT

titanium anti-corrosion coating (2, Funny)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499809)

Mean while the price of titanium anti-corrosion coating will increase from $3 to $40 per pound.

Scotty? (2, Funny)

shoolz (752000) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499828)

Was it he who dropped this info to the startup? Did he also drop the transparency trick too? Please say yes.

like aluminum? (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499848)

Someone more knowledgeable than I am please correct/elaborate, but isn't this essentially the same process that turned aluminum from a rare and barely-usable metal into a ubiquitous industrial material?

green ti process known for years (1)

notshannon (704145) | more than 8 years ago | (#15499854)

The FFC Cambridge Process was invented in 1996.
Read about it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FFC_Cambridge_Process [wikipedia.org]

and there are actual references to scientific
journals at the end of the article, for those
who don't take Wikipedia on faith...

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