“Elemental” Titanium Information
Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, but it is not a free element. It is contained inside other minerals, such as igneous rocks and other similar sediments, and must be extracted by means of the Kroll Process.
Some of the most common elements in which titanium is found include:
However, the main minerals that are really used in any economical way are ilmenite, leucoxene, and rutile. Rutile is about 95% titanium dioxide, while ilmenite contains around 50 to 65% titanium dioxide. Leucoxene, on the other hand, has no specific titanium content, but it is an alteration of ilmenite.
About 89% of the world’s titanium consumption comes from ilmenite, which can be found in deposits in many different countries.
Finding and Mining Titanium?
Workable deposits are found all over the world. For that matter, science shows that it’s also found on the moon, the sun, and the occasional meteorite, though last three don’t exactly represent minable deposits.
Titanium is most commonly strip mined (or open pit mining), and then it is sent, soil and all, to a processing center where it will undergo extraction means of the Kroll Process.
The mining process involves a suction bucket wheel on a floating dredge which scoops up the mineral-rich sands and deposits it on a set of screens called trommels. This is where most of the unwanted materials will be removed, leaving just the ilmenite or other desired minerals, usually through a process of gravity separation in a wet spiral concentrator.
Elements That Are Created in the Process
As the minerals are processed into pure titanium, it creates, as a byproduct, a lot of magnesium chloride.
However, these elements are immediately reclaimed in a recycling cell. This way, it’s possible to separate the magnesium metal and collect the chlorine gas, which can both be reused to produce more titanium.
Titanium Production Levels in the States
In the United States, titanium sponge metal is mainly produced by three operations throughout Nevada and Utah. Titanium ingot, on the other hand, is produced by 10 operations in 8 different states.
The ilmenite and rutile concentrations needed to produce the current levels of titanium are currently mined by 2 firms in Florida and Georgia.
About 90% of all the titanium mineral concentrates that were mined in the states were used as titanium dioxide by companies that are producing pigments for various applications. The other 10% were used in metal and other applications.
In metal form, an estimated 79% of all that titanium metal was used in aerospace application in 2016. The other 21% was divided up and used in armor plating, chemical processing, marine hardware, medical implants, power generation, sporting goods, and other products.
Of course, metal is a recyclable element, and about 53,000 tons of scrap metal was recycled by the titanium industry in 2015.
Titanium remains a very important element in many different industries. As the mining, extraction, and refining processes continue to develop, we can expect to see many more products adopt this metal as an alternative to aluminum or steel.