Low Cost Alternatives to Titanium Plate Production
Agency / Branch:
DOD / ARMY
The current technology for the production of titanium is by the Kroll process producing titanium sponge. The Kroll technology is mature, yet expensive, limiting titanium?s usages. The Kroll titanium sponge is vacuum remelted and alloyed, and cast into billets, or the sponge in ground to powder and powder metallurgy processing used to produce components where alloying can occur in-situ during sintering. Electrolysis/electrowinning processes to produce titanium particulate/sponge have significant potential but have not been perfected to produce acceptable purity and low cost product. This is due in part to titanium?s +4 valence state and lack of solubility of the oxide or covalent chloride in fused salts, the multivalency of titanium and re-oxidation of reduced titanium ions at the anode. Initial results of Phase I suggest a breakthrough in electrowinning titanium that overcomes these problems have been demonstrated. The process consists of a combined thermal/electrolytic treatment utilizing a composite titanium oxide-carbon anode that dissolves Ti3+ directly into solution for electrolytic reduction to titanium particulate that can be directly utilized in powder metallurgy. Both anode and cathode efficiencies are near 100% resulting in low cost titanium. Pulse electrolysis benefits demonstrate reducing cell voltage, controlling Ti particle morphology, and allowing the electrolysis to be performed at very low temperatures. The concept of producing titanium at both composite anodes and cathodes was demonstrated utilizing pulse electrolysis. Pulse electrolysis will be optimized to the most economical process to produce titanium and titanium alloy powder for armor and other defense applications. A basis will be established for translating the pulse electrolysis composite anode process into 200 Kg/month capacity.
Small Business Information at Submission:
MATERIALS & ELECTROCHEMICAL RESEARCH (ME
7960 S. Kolb Rd. Tucson, AZ 85706
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