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Project to develop low-cost titanium wins DOE funding

Keywords: Tags  Department of Energy, DOE, Case Western Reserve University, research project, titanium, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has picked Case Western Reserve University to help develop a low-cost method of producing titanium.

The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy awarded researchers at the Cleveland university $675,000 for a proposed electrowinning process for the agency’s Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advances in Light Metal Systems program.

"Our project, if successful, will lower the cost of titanium by up to 60 percent," Rohan Akolkar, Case Western associate professor of chemical engineering and the principal investigator on the project, said in a statement.

The Case Western team plans to use electrowinning to extract titanium directly from molten titanium salts. It will build a "specialized electrochemical reactor" to produce the metal.

Akolkar noted that, unlike conventional non-electrolytic methods—presumably referring to the widely used Kroll process—magnesium isn’t required in his team’s approach, reducing cost and consumption and simplifying the overall process. Its success also would lessen the United States’ dependence on imports, he said.

The DOE and other government agencies have been funding various proposals for lowering the front-end cost of titanium production for several years.

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