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Titanium: Metal of the 21st Century

The 2nd European Titanium Conference was held on the 27th-28th March 2012 at Tortworth Court, Bristol. Over 160 delegates came and received the latest industry and academia developments in the world of titanium (Ti). Not only was the conference populated with delegates from Europe, but it also attracted visitors from other continents including the Americas, Asia and Australia.


During 2011, the aerospace market began to change in a positive way and therefore analysts envisage the next 20 years being very bright. Around 45 percent of all new passenger traffic will come from the Asian Pacific (APac), with China contributing the largest proportion. Therefore, it has been calculated that the APac will require one third of the 33,500 new aircraft that the industry will need over the next 20 years. The civil aerospace market will be dominated by single-aisle aircraft which is forecast to grow from 62 percent to 70 percent by 2030. However, wide body aircraft will only see growths of around 3 percent.

The development of the market has and will ensure that the demand for titanium remains strong. The most titanium intensive aircrafts are the Boeing


787 and Airbus A380 which both require around 80 MT of the metal. Consequently, by 2015, 45,000 MT of titanium will be needed to meet the planned aeroplane construction targets. Both Boeing and Airbus intend on increasing the production of the 737NG and A320 respectively, to 42 per month, and therefore the challenge lies with the suppliers in providing the materials required.


Since 2006, titanium has been used for upgrades, armoured seats, gun shields, and armour plates. Titanium has also been used to replace heavy metals in a few applications including air conditioning systems, which can amount to a 700 kilo weight saving. So far, over 1000 tonnes of titanium has been used for this purpose, and is expected to grow as the need for lightweight yet effective upgrades increases.

The National Metals Technology Centre Quarterly Journal

Aircrafts that have received titanium upgrades include the Joint Strike Fighter and Legacy Aircraft, of which, the latter has utilised 3000 tonnes of the metal. Over the next decade, the Joint Strike Fighter will dominate in terms of titanium usage within the military force in which the F-35C, carrier-based variant alone will use around 4,000 tonnes.

The APac will also contribute significantly towards the demand for titanium as they continue to heavily invest in their armed forces. China’s military budget is up 11 percent from 2011 to $106 billion for its stealth fighter which cost $120 million each. Similarly, India’s military budget is up 17 percent to $40 billion for the next financial year, as it plans to modernise its armed forces.

Titanium Processing

The opportunities surrounding the creation of titanium alloy powders from direct reduction method were discussed by Andy Woodfield, (GE Aviation) and Kartik Rao, (Metalysis). As the manufacturing sector seeks solutions to reduce its carbon footprint and ultimately drive down costs, this flexible and less energy intensive process could be used as an alternative to either the Kroll or Hunter processes. Another advantage of this innovative method is that the components for electrolysis (salt and carbon) are inexpensive and readily available. Furthermore,

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