By Dr Thoguluva Raghavan Vijayaram PhD
Senior Lecturer Department of Manufacturing Process and System Faculty of Manufacturing Engineering, UTeM Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka Ayer Keroh, 75450 Melaka Malaysia Email: email@example.com
Titanium was first discovered in an impure form by Rev William Gregor in England, 1971. It was later given the name titanium (after the titans, in Greek Mythology, the sons of the sky and earth gods) by a German chemist, Martin Kloproth, when he found a dioxide of the metal in rutile, ilmenite, and in many other widely dispersed ores. In 1910, pure titanium was manufactured by M.A.Hunter, an American Chemist. Hunter was able to extract the metal from the ores and developed the process of mixing rutile ore, Titanium oxide with chlorine and coke, then applying extreme heat, producing titanium tetrachloride, which was further reduced with sodium to form titanium. The hunter process successfully produced high quality titanium. Dr Wilhelm Kroll, in 1946, developed the process currently used for producing titanium commercially. The Kroll process reduces titanium tetrachloride with magnesium. This multi-batch, high temperature process proves to be inefficient. It drives the price of titanium to the point where its applications are restricted to the high-priced, niche markets.
The Armstrong process, developed by International Titanium Powder, LLC is a method of making high purity, fine Titanium powder in a continuous process. This process operates at low temperature, in low pressure, and in a small volume equipment. So, capital cost and labor cost is greatly reduced. The product does not require the additional purification needed by sponge produced from the hunter or kroll process. The powder is suitable for various applications such as powder metallurgy, spray forming, and other near net shape processes. Small diameter, high purity powder is produced directly with now waste stream.
Eventhough titanium is in abundance in nature, it was not found until the 18th century that it was discovered. This can be explained based on the fact that titanium does not exist by itself but it is found in conjunction with other elements. It is found in the minerals ilmenite and rutile at quantities that it has proven economically profitable to produce them in large quantities while it is also extracted from minerals such as leucoxene, perovskite, brookite, sphene, and anatase.