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Name: Chris
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: CA
Country: USA
Date: N/A

I heard Titanium is the 8th (or so) most abundant element on the surface of Earth. So why is Titanium alloy so expensive?

Hi Chris,

There is a big difference between the cost of a metal's ore, and the cost of the refined metal or its alloy. First, various compounds of titanium may in fact be plentiful in the earth's crust, but to be useful, the ore has to have a sufficiently high titanium concentration to make the metal's extraction economic. There are relatively few places where titanium concentrations are high enough to make its mining viable. There are many minerals containing titanium, but only two are useful for refining.

The relative rarity of useful ore deposits is one problem, but the main reason for the metal's high cost is the extreme difficulty in obtaining the pure metal from the ore which is typically either Rutile (impure TiO2) or Ilmanite (impure FeTiO3). The most common refining process (known as the Kroll process) is complex and very expensive, resulting in the metal (and its alloys) being very costly. Until a lower cost refining process is developed (and such work is underway), do not expect to see the cost of titanium drop to reasonable levels.


Bob Wilson

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