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Titanium

Titanium, also abbreviated Ti, is noted for its low-density and high strength, and features the highest weight-to-strength ratio of any structural metal. In nature, titanium is a commonly found mineral, occurring in practically all of earth’s rocks and bodies of water. Its most common compound, titanium dioxide, is used in the production of white pigments, while other compounds can be used as chemical catalysts.

For industrial purposes, titanium is frequently alloyed with other metals to enhance its innate properties, with metals such as iron, aluminum and molybdenum comprising common alloy choices for aerospace applications. In its unalloyed form, titanium possesses as much strength as some forms of steel, but is 45 percent lighter. Titanium is also corrosion-resistant, making it a key choice for high-performance applications—medical devices, jet engines, military applications and electronic goods are just a few of the items that benefit from titaniums properties.

History

Titanium was given its name by a German Chemist, M.H. Klaproth, after he successfully separated Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) from Rutile (a mineral commonly found in igneous and metamorphic rocks) in the late 1700s.   Future separations occured, but pure Titanium was not separated until 1910, by American chemist M.A. Hunter.  Luxembourg native William Kroll later patented a process for producing Titanium in 1938, and major manufacturing of Titanium, Titanium Alloys, and Titanium Dioxide follow soon thereafter.

Titanium Dioxide is the most common form, and is still widely used for pigments and paints, cloth and fabrics.

Pure Titanium is mainly used as an alloy with other metals, as it provides an extremely high melting point and is very lightweight, and resistant to corrosion.  These uses make it perfect for the aerospace,  the marine, and medical industries.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Physically, titanium features strength, low-density and is ductile. Additionally, it features low electrical and thermal conductivity. It is 60 percent more dense than aluminum but twice as strong, and is able to retain its strength at high temperatures because of its extremely high melting point: around 1,650 degrees Celsius (C). Although titanium is hard, it is not as hard as some grades of steel, especially those that have been heat-treated.

Chemically, the most notable characteristic of titanium is its corrosion resistance—titanium can resist hydrochloric acid, chlorine and most organic acids, but is soluble when exposed to highly concentrated acids. In pure nitrogen gas, titanium burns. When exposed to water and air, titanium produces an oxide coating that further inhibits reaction. However, at higher temperatures, titanium is quick to react with air or oxygen (1,200 degrees C for air, 1,130 degrees C for pure oxygen).


Useful Titanium Resources:

International Titanium Association

Los Alamos National Laboratory Titanium Page


United States Geological Survey Titanium Information

Encyclopedia of Earth Titanium Resources

Mineral Information Institute: Titanium

Pigments through the Ages: Titanium Dioxide


Invent.org - Titanium Inventor William Kroll
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