What is the Kroll Process?

Titanium is a remarkable metal. It is durable and strong, yet light and flexible. It is corrosive resistant and biocompatible. Its unique properties has made titanium widely used among many industries from defense to medicine. Today, titanium yields airplanes and dental implants.

Titanium was first discovered in the 1700s, but was not identified and given a name until the early 1900’s.

The name titanium was derived from the word Titan and the metal alloy has lived up to its name, being the mighty driving force behind much of the equipment and technology that makes our lives easier today.

This amazing metal alloy is abundantly found in the earth. However, it has only been within the last few decades that it can be more easily be extracted from the earth. Crude titanium ore cannot be used in its natural form. It must be taken through a tedious and time-consuming process that uses dangerous chemicals and costly equipment.

The process of transforming crude titanium from the earth (known as ore) to the type of metal we use in many aspects of our lives is called the Kroll Process.

The Kroll Process is named after William J. Kroll, who invented the process in 1940 to produce zirconium.

The Kroll Process is comprised of 6 steps to produce the titanium we have come to use and benefit from:

Step 1: The pure titanium ore is converted into a sponge through conducting an electrical charge through the ore. This is done in a chlorinator. Chlorine gas is then passed through the charge.

Step 2: The titanium tetrachloride that is the result of step 1, has the oxygen removed which results in a liquid form of titanium tetrachloride. This crude form of titanium tetrachloride is then purified through fractional distillation.

Step 3: After the distilling process, magnesium or sodium is added to the pure titanium tetrachloride to create a metallic titanium sponge and either magnesium or sodium chloride.

Step 4: The newly formed metallic sponge is then crushed and pressed.

Step 5: The crushed titanium sponge is then melted in an electrode vacuum arc furnace at extremely high temperatures.

Step 6: Because each batch, called an ingot, can weigh as much as 12000 pounds, the melted titanium is allowed to harden and solidify in the furnace rather than being poured out.

Titanium was once touted as the metal of the future and it has played a big role in numerous advancements in defense, manufacturing, aerospace, medical, transportation and leisure industries. Without the discovery of titanium and the Kroll Process, we would not have some of the comforts and luxuries we often take for granted today.

 

At Titanium Processing Center, working with titanium is all we do. We have titanium parts in a variety of shapes and sizes from small fittings to large sheets. We also have the machinery to produce custom sized or shaped titanium parts. If your project needs titanium, contact us today and we’ll help you get the right piece of titanium for you.

Even if you’re not sure what size or grade of titanium you need for your project, our knowledgeable staff will be glad to help you.