The existing production method for titanium, the Kroll process, is energy inefficient, potentially hazardous, labour intensive and therefore expensive.
A new process called Metalysis, starts, as does Kroll, with titanium dioxide but, crucially, replaces the need for adding chlorine as in the Kroll, as Metalysis’s process uses an electrolysis-based approach.
The Metalysis process has the capability to transform global manufacturing of titanium as we know it today, with its capacity for significantly reducing the hitherto significant cost involved in making this lightweight corrosion resistant metal. Because of the intensive production process and attendant high cost, titanium currently only makes an appearance in such extremely high-tech markets as medical implants and aerospace whereas a significant cost reduction could potentially open up a huge range of industry sectors to the potential of the material, replacing stainless steel and aluminium in such applications.
The result is a process capable of producing cheaper, purer, greener metal powders with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, and a whole host of potential applications including electronics, medical, marine, aerospace, defence and many more.
A second party in the success of the Metalysis project is Mersen UK, based in Portslade, Sussex. The Mersen Group (www.mersen.com) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of specialised carbon and graphite products and cooperation with them on this important project proved to be a natural extension of a long time supply relationship with Rautomead.
The third member of the development group is Rautomead’s new ‘Advancing Metals Technology’ division which has its strategic objective in the exploration and development of more efficient non-ferrous metals production, including processes and end-user applications.
In addition to pursuing in-house research projects, the new division’s mandate also covers involvement in a wide range of individual projects with universities and research groups in the UK and overseas. Further collaborations are actively sought with both existing and prospective customers, with the goal of providing new and innovative processes and products within the non-ferrous metals technology market.
Through harnessing its market-leading expertise in the field of graphite technology and transferring the skills it has developed in continuous casting as the basis for these collaborations, the division’s objectives consist of developing imaginative and economical technological solutions with operating systems that will offer the end user significant application improvements in the next generation of Rautomead equipment.