Making titanium metal powder

Our novel titanium process produces high quality commercially pure titanium powder which can efficiently and cost-effectively speed up metal fabrication. It's based on fluidised bed technology where solid particles suspended in a gas act like a fluid.

The Challenge

High cost titanium fabrication

Titanium is prized for its strength and non-corrosive properties. It is widely used in industries such as aerospace, transport, biomedicine and chemical processing to create high-performance, lightweight parts.

The metal is conventionally extracted in ingot form using the Kroll process, which is expensive, energy-intensive and time consuming.

The production of finished parts from ingot usually involves complex processing often generating large volumes of scrap which needs to be recycled. Titanium powder feeds enable near net shape fabrication which generates very little waste.

Our Response

Developing a unique, continuous process to reduce cost and increase efficiency

Our scientists developed the CSIRO Ti process; a unique two-step process which enables the direct continuous production and tailoring of titanium metal powder to suit downstream commercial fabrication uses.

We used our expertise in fluidised bed technology (where solid particles suspended in a gas act like a fluid), process engineering and computerised modelling to build a pilot-scale fluidised bed reactor, and develop a high-efficiency metal separation process.

The CSIRO Ti process involves the continuous reduction of titanium tetrachloride with magnesium. We have redesigned the chloride separation step as a continuous process, capable of producing high quality titanium powder.

The Results

Scale-up to commercial production

From the automotive industry to three-dimensional (3D) printed medical implants, the markets for titanium powder are expanding and the CSIRO Ti process is attractive in terms of efficiency and production costs.

Our approach provides low inventory and low working capital, increased safety as risk of metal powder incidents is minimised, and allows manufacturers to meet work-to-demand production schedules. It is fully automatable with rapid, simple plant start-up and shut-down.

We are refining our reactor design and building a scalable pilot reactor with production capacity of 2.0 kg/hour of titanium. The technology is poised for scale-up to commercial-scale production and will support development of a demonstration plant.

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