Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Titanium Abundance and Cost
Name: Chris
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: CA
Country: USA
Date: N/A


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


Replies:
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.

Regards,

Bob Wilson

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory