Material of the Month: Titanium

Material of the Month: Titanium

Titanium is a strong, grey metal which is highly corrosion resistant and has a high melting temperature. It has a very low density but high strength, it’s 45% lighter than steel with the same strength though. Compared to Aluminum, it’s 60% heavier, but twice as strong. Titanium is one of the earths most abundant materials, but mainly occurs in the form of minerals. The most common compound of titanium is used in paints and polymers, while its metal form is mainly used in aerospace, medical equipment and automotive industry. Due to its lightweight, titanium offers a better performance and lower fuel consumption in transport applications. Over half of the titanium is used in its oxide form in inorganic pigments, so-called ‘titanium white’.

Production

Even though titanium is abundant in earth’s crust, its extraction is rather expensive and time-consuming. Canada is the biggest titanium ore producer, followed by China, Australia, South Africa, and Mozambique and Norway. Only 6% of the overall used titanium comes from old scrap and is not seen to be increasing in the future due to the high demand of titanium.

Issues

Titanium has been added to the list of critical raw materials since 2020 due to a shift of criticality scores both for economic importance and supply risk due to the increasing importance of the titanium metal in high technology applications. For the metal form, China has been the major supplier and makes up almost half of the global annual production.

 

Sources: 

Study on the EU’s list of Critical Raw Materials (2020)
USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries: Titanium Mineral Concentrates and Titanium and Titanium Oxide
USGS Mineral Critical Mineral Resources USA, Chapter T, Titanium
CRM Alliance, Titanium