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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.109 n.8 Johannesburg Aug. 2009




A critical evaluation of processes to produce primary titanium



D.S. van Vuuren

MSM, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa




Over the last 60 years many different processes were conceived to reduce the cost of titanium produced by the Kroll process. However, success eluded all previous efforts, which were consequently terminated in periods of economic downturn. Recently, the growth in demand for titanium and the high cost of producing the metal again sparked renewed attempts in various parts of the world to replace the antiquated Kroll process with a more efficient route.
The different options to produce titanium are reviewed, classified and evaluated in terms of the fundamentals underlying the technologies, and it is shown that the options considered to be the most likely to replace the Kroll process, are continuous processes to reduce TiCl4 metallo-thermically to titanium powder. Of these, continuous magnesio-thermic reduction of TiCl4 would conceptually result in the lowest-cost and highest-value product. However, when considering by-product salt removal from the titanium product and recycling of the salt as well, sodio-thermic reduction of TiCl4is better.



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