Titanium is a transition metal which is denoted with the symbol Ti in the periodic table of elements. It is characterized as silver gray and lightweight material with an atomic weight of 47.90 and atomic number of 22.
It is known to be the fourth most plentiful metal that make up around 0.62% of the earth’s crust. It is rarely found in its pure form and exists typically in minerals including anatase, ilmenite, brookite, sphene, rutile and several others. While it is abundant, it is still expensive due to the reason that isolating titanium is difficult.
Titanium is produced using Kroll process that involves extraction, purification, production of sponge, creation of alloy, forming and finally shaping.
At the beginning of the production, manufacturers obtain titanium concentrates from mines. Ilmenite is processed in order for iron to be removed. These materials are placed in fluidized bed reactor together with chlorine gas and carbon. This will be heated to 900 degrees C and the chemical reaction leads to the creation of impure titanium.
The reacted metal is placed in large distillation tanks then they are heated. In this step, the impurities are expelled with the use of fractional distillation as well as precipitation. This action could help remove chloride like those of vanadium, iron, silicon, magnesium and zirconium.
After that, the purified titanium tetrachloride will be moved as liquid into a stainless steel reactor vessel. Then it will be mixed with magnesium and heated to about 1,100 degrees C.
Argon will be pumped to the container in order for air to be expelled and for the contamination of hydrogen or oxygen is prevented. Magnesium then reacts with chlorine that produces liquid magnesium chloride, leaving the pure titanium solid because the melting point of titanium is relatively higher compared to the reaction.
Pure titanium sponge can be converted to usable allow through a consumable electrode arc furnace. The sponge electrode is put in a vacuum arc furnace where it can melt. When the ingot is made, it will be removed from the furnace and goes through inspection to identify if there are defects. If there are no defects, ingot can be shipped to finished goods manufacturer where it will be milled and fabricated in different products.